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CO  >  03 




Stephen  Vincent  Bene"t 


ty  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 















(with  Rosemary  Benet) 





Stevhen  Vincent 



New  York 

Farrar  &  Rinekart,  Inc. 






The  works  included  in  this  volume  are  covered  by  separate  copyrights, 
as  stated  below: 


John  Brown's  Body,  Copyright,  1927,  1928,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 


Portrait  of  a  Boy,  Copyright,  1917,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Portrait  of  a  Baby,  Copyright,  1918,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Portrait  of  Young  Love,  Copyright,  1918,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

The  General  Public,  Copyright,  1918,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Bcnct 

Young  Blood,  Copyright,  1918,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

The  Breaking  Point,  Copyright,  1918,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Poor  Devil!,  Copyright,  1918,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

The  Golden  Corpse,  Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 


To  Rosemary  (original  title— Dedication) ,  Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vin- 
cent Benet 

Chemical  Analysis,  Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Nomenclature,  Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Difference,  Copyright,  1921,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
A  Sad  Song,  Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
A  Nonsense  Song,  Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
To  Rosemary,  on  the  Methods  by  Which  She  Might  Become  an  Angel, 

Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Evening  and  Morning,  Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
In  a  Glass  of  Water  Before  Retiring,  Copyright,  1923,  by  Stephen  Vincent 


Legend,  Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Dulce  Ridentem,  Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Ben£t 
All  Night  Long,  Copyright,  1923,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Days  Pass:  Men  Pass,  Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Ilia,  Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Hands,  Copyright,  1931,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benjt--— 
Memory,  Copyright,  1936,  by  Stephen  VioccTTf"Benet 


American  Names,  Copyright,  1927,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

The  Ballad  of  William  Sycamore,  Copyright,  1922,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

The  Hemp,  Copyright,  1916,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

The  Mountain  Whippoorwill,  Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

King  David,  Copyright,  1923,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

The  Retort  Discourteous,  Copyright,  1920,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Three  Days'  Ride,  Copyright,  1920,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Alexander  the  Sixth  Dines  with  the  Cardinal  of  Capua,  Copyright,  1918,  by 

Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Southern  Ships  and  Settlers  (Original  title— Southern  Ships),  Copyright,  1933, 

by  Rosemary  and  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Cotton  Mather,  Copyright,  1933,  by  Rosemary  and  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Captrin  Kidd,  Copyright,  1933,  by  Rosemary. and  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
French  Pioneers,  Copyright,  1933,  by  Rosemary  and  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Thomas  Jefferson,  Copyright,  1933,  by  Rosemary  and  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
John  James  Audubon,  Copyright,  1933,  by  Rosemary  and  Stephen  Vincent 


Daniel  Boone,  Copyright,  1933,  by  Rosemary  and  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Western  Wagons,  Copyright,  1933,  by  Rosemary  and  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 


The  Innovator,  Copyright,  1918,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Snowfall,  Copyright,  1924,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Bad  Dream,  Copyright,  1929,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

For  All  Blasphemers,  Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Architects,  Copyright,  1925,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Dinner  in  a  Quick  Lunch  Room,  Copyright;  1918,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Operation,  Copyright,  1920,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

The  Trapeze  Performer,  Copyright,  1920,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Judgment,  Copyright,  1920,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Ghosts  of  a  Lunatic  Asylum,  Copyright,  1918,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

For  Those  Who  Arc  as  Right  as  Any,  Copyright,  1936,  by  Stephen  Vincent 


Girl  Child,  Copyright,  1935,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Old  Man  Hoppergrass,  Copyright,  1936,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
The  Lost  Wife,  Copyright,  1927,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Pcnet 
Sparrow,  Copyright,  1936,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Thanks,  Copyright,  1936,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Complaint  of  Body,  the  Ass,  Against  His  Rider,  the  Soul,  Copyright,  1936, 
by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 


Notes  to  be  Left  in  a  Cornerstone,  Copyright,  1936,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Short  Ode,  Copyright,  1936,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Litany  for  Dictatorships,  Copyright,  1935,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 
Ode  to  the  Austrian  Socialists,  Copyright?  1936,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Bene*t 
Do  You  Remember,  Springfield?,  Copyright,  1936,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Bene't 

Ode  to  Walt  Whitman,  Copyright,  1935,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Bene"t 

Metropolitan  Nightmare,  Copyright,  1933,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Nightmare,  with  Angels,  Copyright,  1935,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Nightmare  Number  Three,  Copyright,  1935,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

1935,  Copyright,  1935,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

For  City  Spring,  Copyright,  1935,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

For  City  Lovers,  Copyright,  1936,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Nightmare  for  Future  Reference,  Copyright,  1938,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Ben6t 

Minor  Litany,  Copyright,  1940,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Nightmare  at  Noon,  Copyright,  1940,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet 

Listen  to  the  People,  Copyright,  1941,  by  Stephen  Vincent  Benet  , 



Of  Mark  Sabre,  the  hero  of  If  Winter  Comes,  we  are  told  that 
Byron's  poems  was  "the  first  book  he  had  ever  bought  'specially'— 
not,  that  is,  as  one  buys  a  bun,  but  as  one  buys  a  dog.'  I  have  a 
similar  feeling  for  Stephen  Vincent  Benet's  Heavens  and  Earth 
(his  third  volume  of  poems,  following  Young  Adventure,  and 
Five  Men  and  Pompey,  published  while  he  was  still  at  school). 
For  that  was  the  first  book  I  ever  bought  on  the  strength  of  a 
review— and  I  wish  my  own  reviews  were  always  as  reliable  as 
that  one  proved  to  be.  It  appeared  in  The  Yale  Literary  Magazine; 
I  was  a  schoolboy  at  Taft  at  the  time,  and  read  the  Lit  much  more 
religiously  than  I  did  when  I  got  to  Yale.  What  chiefly  struck  me 
in  it  was  a  comparison  to  William  Morris,  a  current  idol  of  mine, 
and  a  number  of  quotations,  excellently  chosen,  which  showed 
me  that  here  was  one  of  my  predestined  books.  I  bought  it  the 
first  day  of  the  following  vacation  (it  was  one  of  the  curious  fea- 
tures or  secondary  education  as  then  practiced  that  while  at  school 
it  was  made  as  difficult  as  possible  to  read  any  books)  and  found 
all  that  I  had  been  looking  for  and  more  besides.  The  resemblance 
to  William  Morris  in  certain  poems  was  plain  enough;  in  his  first 
novel,  The  Beginning  of  Wisdom,  which  belongs  to  what  he  has 
elsewhere  described  as  "the  required  project  in  those  days,  a  school 
and  college  novel,"  Benet  says  of  the  boy  who  is  not  quite  him- 
self that  one  of  his  first  outpourings  was  "a  long  and  bloodily  bad 
ballad  stewed  from  the  bones  of  William  Morris";  but  it  was 
resemblance  to  Morris  where  he  is  least  dangerous  as  an  influence, 
in  the  mood  of  mediaevalism  combined  with  brutal  realism  of 
"Shameful  Death"  or  "The  Haystack  in  the  Floods"— and,  mak- 
ing allowance  for  some  youthful  romanticism,  the  mood,  here,  of 
"Three  Days'  Ride." 

But  there  was  of  course  a  great  deal  more  than  that.  Even  in 
that  one  poem,  there  was  also,  for  instance,  a  technical  device  to 
take  your  breath  away— literally,  the  way  the  pnigos  in  Aris- 
tophanes took  away  the  breath  of  the  actor— if  (as  you  should) 
you  read  it  aloud.  It  is  that  innocent  refrain, 


From  Belton  Castle  to  Solway  side, 
Hard  by  the  bridge,  is  three  days'  ride, 

which,  at  each  repetition,  becomes  more  menacing,  until  in  its  final 

From  Belton  Castle  to  Solway  side, 

Though  great  hearts  break,  is  three  days'  ride, 

the  beating  stresses  give  you  a  feeling  in  the  chest  which  you  will 
recognize  from  the  last  time  you  ran  five  miles. 

There  were  other  matters  of  technique,  too,  to  fascinate  a  school- 
boy who  had  recently  discovered  the  subject.  There  is  the  dirge 
in  "The  First  Vision  of  Helen"— which  he  would  not  let  me  in- 
clude here,  with  the  oversevere  judgment  of  a  creator  who  has 
gone  on  to  something  else.  God,  I  suppose,  admires  the  dinosaurs 
less  than  we  do.  The  poem  is  in  various  metres;  one  section  begins: 

Close  his  eyes  with  the  coins;  bind  his  chin  with  the  shroud. 

That  line,  you  will  notice,  is  made  of  the  musical  phrase  turn  ti  turn 
ti  ti  turn  twice  repeated;  and  that,  with  what  the  books  call  ana- 
crusis and  anaclasis,  is  the  metrical  unit  of  the  entire  lament.  It  was 
not  until  freshman  year  at  Yale  when  I  read  Prometheus  Bound 
that  I  learned  to  call  it  a  dochmiac;  but  I  was  able  to  recognize  it 
as  a  single  foot,  and  a  complete  and  rare  one.  (Gilbert  Murray  and 
another  have  used  it  to  render  Greek  choruses;  as  far  as  I  know  it 
occurs  nowhere  else  in  English.)  A  good  deal  later  I  was  able  to 
ask  Steve  Benet,  ""M.  Jourdain,  did  you  know  that  in  that  passage 
you  were  writing  in  dochmiacs?"  He  replied  honestly  that  he  did 
not  know  whether  he  had  ever  encountered  the  foot  or  not,  but 
he  believed  he  had  just  felt  that  anapaests  were  "too  curly." 

Whether  he  found  or  invented  it,  it  is  the  perfect  measure  for 
the  sway  of  the  bearers  ("Slow  as  the  stream  and  strong,  answer- 
ing knee  to  knee") ;  and  the  accommodation  of  the  line  to  the 
breath  in  these  two  poems  is  the  promise  of  what  he  achieves  in 
John  Brorwn>s  Body  when  he  attacks  one  of  the  primary  problems 
of  verse  in  our  day,  the  finding  of  a  form  which  may  bear  the  same 
relation  to  our  easygoing  talk  that,  presumably,  blank  verse  did 
to  the  more  formal  speech  of  an  earlier  generation.  Half  a  dozen 
poets  are  attempting  it;  Benet  was  one  of  the  first  in  the  field,  and 
I  think  is  the  most  successful,  with  the  long,  loose,  five-  or  six-beat 

line  that  carries  the  bulk  of  John  Brofwn^s  Body.  It  will  be  im- 
proved in  the  later  poems;  in  John  Broiun's  Body  it  is  sometimes 
a  little  too  loose,  coming  perilously  near  prose;  yet  it  can  carry 
casual  conversations  without  incongruity,  or  at  need  can  deepen 
without  any  sense  of  abrupt  transition  into  blank  verse  for  the 
nobility  of  Lincoln  or  Lee,  or  even  slip  into  rhyme  for  the  roman- 
tics of  the  Wingates.  And  it  passes  the  great  test  for  existence  as 
a  metre:  single  lines  of  it  stay  in  your  memory,  existing  by  them- 

It  is  over  now,  but  they  will  not  let  it  be  over. 

Professor  Procrustes  could  explain  that  as  an  iambic  or  an  ana- 
paestic line,  and  name  its  variations;  but  to  plain  common  sense  it 
is  neither.  It  is  in  a  metre  of  its  own;  one  of  our  time;  one  which 
Benet  has  given  us. 

There  was  more,  too,  in  that  thin  purple  book  with  a  gilt  demi- 
Pegasus  on  the  cover,  to  meet  one  halfway  and  lead  one  out  of  the 
Pre-Raphaelite  dreamland.  There  was  an  impish  humor,  which  ap- 
peared not  only  in  the  openly  grotesque  poems,  but  was  likely 
to  crop  up  anywhere— in  the  tempting  quotation,  for  instance, 
which  begins  "Young  Blood,"  and  which,  when  you  catch  him 
with  the  question,  Steve  will  blandly  tell  you  that  he  invented. 
It  is  this  quality,  by  the  way,  which  is  most  readily  apparent  when 
you  know  him.  He  is  given  a  puckish  air  by  his  habit  of  twisting 
his  legs  round  his  chair,  by  his  round  glasses,  and  his  squeaky 
voice— which  I  always  hear,  in  "Nightmare  with  Angels,"  giving 
his  own  peculiarly  emphatic  intonation  to  the  conclusion  "In  fact, 
you  will  not  be  saved."  In  talk  he  seems  to  "make  fun"  of  every- 
thing, not  in  the  sense  of  ridicule,  but  with  the  humor  that  comes 
from  looking  at  anything  with  a  really  original  mind.  His  talk 
ranges  over  everything  he  has  read  (and  he  has  read  everything) 
building  pyramids  in  the  air,  and,  like  his  own  "Innovator,"  turn- 
ing them  upside  down  to  see  how  they  look;  while  from  time  to 
time  his  wife  Rosemary  puts  in  a  wise  and  charming  word  as  she 
sits  serenely  sewing— looking  like  an  unusually  humorous  version 
of  the  housewifely  Athena,  as  Steve  behind  his  spectacles  looks 
like  an  unusually  humorous  version  of  Athena's  owl. 

That  is  the  Benet  of  the  dry  comments  in  John  Brown's  Body, 
upon  McClellan— 

He  looked  the  part—he  could  have  acted  the  part 


Word  perfectly.  He  looked  like  an  empire-builder. 
But  so  few  empire-builders  have  looked  the  part— 

or  upon  Wendell  Phillips- 
He  did  his  part, 

Being  strong  and  active,  in  all  ways  shaped  like  a  man, 
And  the  cause  being  one  to  which  he  professed  devotion, 
He  spoke.  He  spoke  well,  with  conviction,  and  frequently. 

It  is  the  Benet  of  the  fantasies  and  fables,  of  the  extraordinary 
"Nightmares,"  which  deepen  from  the  fantastic-amusing  to  the 
fantastic-terrifying.  It's  the  author  who  can  rewrite  an  old  fairy 
tale  for  today  in  the  much-reprinted  "King  of  the  Cats,"  or  can 
write  a  new  legend  so  perfect  that  it  seems  to  have  been  always 
a  part  of  our  folklore— for  the  Devil  and  Daniel  Webster  ought 
forever  to  haunt  New  Hampshire  as  solidly  as  Rip  Van  Winkle 
and  his  gnomes  haunt  the  Hudson.  And  the  Benet  who  turns 
pyramids  upside  down  in  talk  is  the  one  who  writes  with  imagina- 
tion. The  popular  magazines  are  filled  with  stories  that  have  in- 
vention, and  ingenuity,  and  even  a  sort  of  conjurer's  illusion;  but 
the  rarest  thing  in  the  world  there  or  anywhere  else  is  real  imagi- 
nation, which  is  real  magic— such  as  you  find  in  that  astonishing 
piece  of  what-if,  "The  Curfew  Tolls,"  or  that  haunting  evocation 
of  the  feeling  of  certain  quiet  city  backwaters,  "Glamour."  It  is 
also  one  of  the  marks  of  imaginative  insight  that  it  can  have  an 
Einsteinian  view  of  both  sides  of  a  solid  at  once;  can  see  Napoleon 
as  a  good  deal  of  a  scoundrel  and  also  as  a  great  man;  can  destroy 
all  the  traditional  witchery  of  the  traditional  Southern  belle,  and 
yet  leave  her,  somehow,  mistress  of  a  more  undeniable  spell  than 

And  then,  of  course,  in  Heavens  and  Earth  there  was  a  section, 
The  Tall  Town,  which  showed  that  there  was  poetry  in  New 
York;  and  in  Benet's  previous  volume,  Young  Adventure,  to  which 
Heavens  and  Earth  sent  me  back,  there  was  "The  Hemp,"  a  ballad 
laid  in  Virginia.  He  was  to  write  finer  celebrations  of  New  York, 
in  prose  and  in  verse,  in  "All  Ar  )und  the  Town,"  and  his  city 
poems,  in  visions  of  its  decay  and  resurrection;  and  he  was  to  write 
greater  ballads  about  America;  but  he  had  already  declared  that 
delight  in  his  city  and  country  which  was  to  be  a  major  theme 
in  his  work. 

Americanism  is  so  much  in  fashion  now  that  Benet's  Ameri- 


canism,  for  all  its  brilliance  of  technical  achievement,  its  breadth 
of  sympathy,  and  its  depth  of  feeling,  is  apt,  now  that  the  intel- 
lectual climate  of  the  day  has  caught  up  with  it,  to  seem  less 
remarkable  than  it  is.  It  is  worth  remembering  that  when  other 
young  men  of  his  age  were  writing  rondcaux  and  villanelles  and 
tales  of  far  away  and  long  ago,  Benet  was  already  turning  the 
ballad  to  American  themes;  and  that  at  the  end  of  the  tinsel  twen- 
ties, when  it  was  the  fashion  to  say  that  American  life  was  rootless, 
drab,  and  everywhere  the  same,  Benet  was  already  writing  John 
Brown's  Body,  with  its  sensitive  feeling  for  half  a  dozen  country- 
sides and  racial  strains,  and  for  the  American  wilderness  and  the  old 
English  songs  that  frame  the  exquisite  idyll  of  Jack  Ellyat  and 
Melora  Vilas.  (That  story  always  reminds  me  somewhat  of  an- 
other idyll  in  the  midst  of  a  martial  epic,  the  episode  of  Angelica 
and  Medoro  in  the  Orlando  Furioso,  and  sets  me  to  wondering 
about  what  the  unconscious  mind  may  do.  I  once  asked  Steve 
whether  the  line  in  John  Brornm>s  Body, 

He  danced  with  me.  He  could  dance  rather  well.  Fie  is  dead. 

was  intended  to  translate,  as  it  so  perfectly  does,  the  epitaph  on  a 
Roman  dancing  boy:  Saltavit.  Placuit.  Mortuus  est.  He  replied 
that  he  had  not  intended  it,  but  he  knew  the  Latin  line  well— it 
was  a  favorite  with  Monty  Woolley,  who  gave  delight  and  a  sup- 
ply of  anecdotes  to  generations  of  Yale  actors— and,  said  Steve, 
"the  unconscious  does  queer  things."  I  have  often  wondered  if  his 
unconscious  brought  him  the  name  of  Melora,  altered  from  Ariosto. 
Melora— Medoro:  it  might  be.)  And  from  the  crowd  of  novels 
which  try  to  add  realism  to  historical  fiction  by  getting  up  all  the 
details  or  a  campaign  and  not  letting  you  off  a  single  one  of  them, 
it  is  a  pleasure  to  turn  back  to  Spanish  Bayonet,  a  historical  novel 
which  attains  reality  by  the  simple  and  difficult  device  of  making 
the  hero  a  real  person. 

There  is  no  one  to  touch  Benet  in  the  variety  and  skill  of  his 
treatment  of  American  themes;  yet  even  his  Americanism  is  only 
the  outcome  of  something  deeper.  If  he  says,  "Dear  city  of 
Cecrops,"  it  is  because  that  is  the  nearest  earthly  approach  to  the 
dear  crv  of  God.  He  loves  New  York  as  the  communal  achieve- 
ment of  the  spirit  of  man;  he  loves  America  because  there  every 
man  can  most  freely  become  what  God  meant  him  to  be.  One  can 
perceive  his  feeling,  in  reverse,  in  his  two  grotesque  nightmares, 
the  ones  which  express  a  horror  of  insects  and  of  machines;  for 


they  are  the  two  things  that  have  no  right  to  be  so  intelligent— 
and  so  inhuman.  And  because  he  loves  man  he  loves  man's  life. 
Life,  one  feels  as  one  reads  here,  is  too  good  to  waste  in  holding 
a  grudge  like  the  Die-Hard,  or  in  philandering,  like  the  man  to 
whom  everybody  was  very  nice,  and  too  good  to  waste  in  being 
rich  and  proper,  like  the  magnificent  sheep  who  were  Schooner 
Fairchild's  classmates;  and  eternity  is  too  good,  as  Doc  Mellhorn 
found,  to  waste  playing  a  harp. 

When  the  free  life  of  man  is  threatened  by  the  cult  of  death, 
by  those  who  deliberately  make  their  souls  eunuchs  for  the  sake 
of  the  kingdoms  of  this  earth,  it  is  such  a  man  who  has  both  the 
surest  guard  against  ultimate  despair,  and  the  most  tragic  sense  of 
immediate  peril.  The  spirit  of  man,  he  knows,  is  indestructible; 
the  last  of  the  legions  goes,  and  Britain  falls,  but  England  rises; 
the  savage  by  the  waters  of  Babylon  begins  the  hazardous  moun- 
taineering toward  civilization;  the  refugee  going  into  Egypt  says, 
"We  have  been  in  exile  before."  But  between  there  lies  gaping 
the  gulf  of  the  Dark  Ages;  and  the  man  who  feels  the  tragedy  of 
the  waste  of  one  Napoleon  Bonaparte  will  be  the  one  who  can 
feel  and  make  us  feel  the  horror  of  the  waste  of  whole  generations- 
ful  of  lives.  If  (in  spite  of  the  angel  in  the  nightmare)  we  are  to  be 
saved,  it  will  be  in  great  part  by  the  writings  that  show  us  all  what 
we  have  to  live  for,  and  the  good  life  that  we  could  make. 







Portrait  of  a  Boy 339 

Portrait  of  a  Baby 340 

Portrait  of  Young  Love 341 

The  General  Public 342 

Young  Blood 343 

The  Breaking  Point 344 

Poor  Devil! 345 

The  Golden  Corpse 346 


To  Rosemary 353 

Chemical  Analysis 354 

Nomenclature 354 

Difference 355 

A  Sad  Song 355 

A  Nonsense  Song 356 

To  Rosemary,  on  the  Methods  by  Which  She  Might 

Become  an  Angel 357 

Evening  and  Morning 357 

In  a  Glass  of  Water  Before  Retiring 358 

Legend 359 

Dulce  Ridentem 361 

All  Night  Long 362 

Days  Pass:  Men  Pass 

Ilia ,  . 

Hands 363 

Memory 364 


American  Names *    .    .  367 

The  Ballad  of  William  Sycamore 368 

The  Hemp 371 

The  Mountain  Whippoorwill 376 

King  David 380 

The  Retort  Discourteous 387 

Three  Days' Ride 389 

Alexander  the  Sixth  Dines  with  the  Cardinal  of  Capua    .  392 

Southern  Ships  and  Settlers 395 

Cotton  Mather 396 

Captain  Kidd 397 

French  Pioneers 397 

Thomas  Jefferson 398 

John  James  Audubon 400 

Daniel  Boone 402 

Western  Wagons 402 


The  Innovator 405 

Snowfall 406 

Bad  Dream 407 

For  All  Blasphemers 408 

Architects 409 

Dinner  in  a  Quick  Lunch  Room 409 

Operation 410 

The  Trapeze  Performer 410 

Judgment 411 

Ghosts  of  a  Lunatic  Asylum 411 

For  Those  Who  Are  as  Right  as  Any 412 

Girl  Child 413 

Old  Man  Hoppergrass 414 

The  Lost  Wife 415 

Sparrow 416 

Thanks 417 

Complaint  of  Body,  the  Ass,  Against  His  Rider,  the  Soul  418 


Notes  to  Be  Left  in  a  Cornerstone 423 

Short  Ode 428 

Litany  for  Dictatorships 429 

Ode  to  the  Austrian  Socialists 432 

Do  You  Remember,  Springfield? 435 

Ode  to  Walt  Whitman 438 

Metropolitan  Nightmare 448 

Nightmare,  with  Angels 450 

Nightmare  Number  Three 452 

1936 454 

For  City  Spring 455 

For  City  Lovers 456 

Nightmare  for  Future  Reference 457 

Minor  Litany 461 

Nightmare  at  Noon 464 



John  'Brown's 


A/IERICAN  muse,  whose  strong  and  diverse  heart 
So  many  men  have  tried  to  understand 
But  only  made  it  smaller  with  their  art, 
Because  you  are  as  various  as  your  land, 

As  mountainous-deep,  as  flowered  with  blue  rivers, 
Thirsty  with  deserts,  buried  under  snows, 
As  native  as  the  shape  of  Navajo  quivers, 
And  native,  too,  as  the  sea-voyaged  rose. 

Swift  runner,  never  captured  or  subdued, 
Seven-branched  elk  beside  the  mountain  stream, 
That  half  a  hundred  hunters  have  pursued 
But  never  matched  their  bullets  with  the  dream, 

Where  the  great  huntsmen  failed,  I  set  my  sorry 
And  mortal  snare  for  your  immortal  quarry. 

You  are  the  buffalo-ghost,  the  broncho-ghost 
With  dollar-silver  in  your  saddle-horn, 
The  cowboys  riding  in  from  Painted  Post, 
The  Indian  arrow  in  the  Indian  corn, 

And  you  are  the  clipped  velvet  of  the  lawns 
Where  Shropshire  grows  from  Massachusetts  sods, 
The  grey  Maine  rocks— and  the  war-painted  dawns 
That  break  above  the  Garden  of  the  Gods. 

The  prairie-schooners  crawling  toward  the  ore 
And  the  cheap  car,  parked  by  the  station-door. 

Where  the  skyscrapers  lift  their  foggy  plumes 
Of  stranded  smoke  out  of  a  stony  mouth 
You  are  that  high  stone  and  its  arrogant  fumes, 
And  you  are  ruined  gardens  in  the  South 

And  bleak  New  England  farms,  so  winter- white 
Even  their  roofs  look  lonely,  and  the  deep 
The  middle  grainland  where  the  wind  of  night 
Is  like  all  blind  earth  sighing  in  her  sleep. 

A  friend,  an  enemy,  a  sacred  hag 

With  two  tied  oceans  in  her  medicine-bag. 

They  tried  to  fit  you  with  an  English  song 
And  clip  your  speech  into  the  English  tale. 
But,  even  from  the  first,  the  words  went  wrong, 
The  catbird  pecked  away  the  nightingale. 

The  homesick  men  begot  high-cheekboned  things 
Whose  wit  was  whittled  witli  a  different  sound 
And  Thames  and  all  the  rivers  of  the  kings 
Ran  into  Mississippi  and  were  drowned. 

They  planted  England  with  a  stubborn  trust. 
But  the  cleft  dust  was  never  English  dust. 

Stepchild  of  every  exile  from  content 
And  all  the  disavouched,  hard-bitten  pack 
Shipped  overseas  to  steal  a  continent 
With  neither  shirts  nor  honor  to  their  back. 

Pimping  grandee  and  rump-faced  regicide, 
Apple-cheeked  younkers  irom  a  windmill-square, 
Puritans  stubborn  as  the  nails  of  Pride, 
Rakes  from  Versailks  and  thieves  from  County  Clare, 

The  black-robed  priests  who  broke  their  hearts  in  vain 
To  make  you  God  and  France  or  God  and  Spain. 

These  were  your  lovers  in  your  buckskin-youth. 
And  each  one  married  with  a  dream  so  proud 
He  never  knew  it  could  not  be  the  truth 
And  that  he  coupled  with  a  girl  of  cloud. 

And  now  to  see  you  is  more  difficult  yet 
Except  as  an  immensity  of  wheel 
Made  up  of  wheels,  oiled  with  inhuman  sweat 
And  glittering  with  the  heat  of  ladled  steel. 

All  these  you  are,  and  each  is  partly  you, 
And  none  is  false,  and  none  is  wholly  true. 

So  how  to  see  you  as  you  really  are, 
So  how  to  suck  the  pure,  distillate,  stored 
Essence  of  essence  from  the  hidden  star 
And  make  it  pierce  like  a  riposting  sword. 

For,  as  we  hunt  you  down,  you  must  escape 
And  we  pursue  a  shadow  of  our  own 
That  can  be  caught  in  a  magician's  cape 
But  has  the  flatness  of  a  painted  stone. 

Never  the  running  stag,  the  gull  at  wing, 
The  pure  elixir,  the  American  thing. 

And  yet,  at  moments  when  the  mind  was  hot 
With  something  fierier  than  joy  or  grief, 
When  each  known  spot  was  an  eternal  spot 
And  every  leaf  was  an  immortal  leaf, 

I  think  that  I  have  seen  you,  not  as  one, 
But  clad  in  diverse  semblances  and  powers, 
Always  the  same,  as  light  falls  from  the  sun, 
And  always  different,  as  the  differing  hours. 

Yet,  through  each  altered  garment  that  you  wore 
The  naked  body,  shaking  the  heart's  core. 

All  day  the  snow  fell  on  that  Eastern  town 
With  its  soft,  pelting,  little,  endless  sigh 
Of  infinite  flakes  that  brought  the  tall  sky  down 
Till  I  could  put  my  hands  in  the  white  sky 

And  taste  cold  scraps  of  heaven  on  my  tongue 
And  walk  in  such  a  changed  and  luminous  light 
As  gods  inhabit  when  the  gods  are  young. 
All  day  it  fell.  And  when  the  gathered  night 

Was  a  blue  shadow  cast  by  a  pale  glow 

I  saw  you  then,  snow-image,  bird  of  the  snow. 

And  I  have  seen  and  heard  you  in  the  dry 
Close-huddled  furnace  of  the  city  street 
When  the  parched  moon  was  planted  in  the  sky 
And  the  limp  air  hung  dead  against  the  heat. 

I  saw  you  rise,  red  as  that  rusty  plant, 

Dizzied  with  lights,  half-mad  with  senseless  sound, 

Enormous  metal,  shaking  to  the  chant 

Of  a  triphammer  striking  iron  ground. 

Enormous  power,  ugly  to  the  fool, 
And  beautiful  as  a  well-handled  tool. 

These,  and  the  memory  of  that  windy  day 
On  the  bare  hills,  beyond  the  last  barbed  wire, 
When  all  the  orange  poppies  bloomed  one  way 
As  if  a  breath  would  blow  them  into  fire, 

I  keep  forever,  like  the  sea-lion's  tusk 
The  broken  sailor  brings  away  to  land, 
But  when  he  touches  it,  he  smells  the  musk, 
And  the  whole  sea  lies  hollow  in  his  hand. 

So,  from  a  hundred  visions,  I  make  one, 
And  out  of  darkness  build  my  mocking  sun. 

And  should  that  task  seem  fruitless  in  the  eyes 
Of  those  a  different  magic  sets  apart 
To  see  through  the  ice-crystal  of  the  wise 
No  nation  but  the  nation  that  is  Art, 

Their  words  are  just.  But  when  the  birchbark-call 
Is  shaken  with  the  sound  that  hunters  make 
The  moose  comes  plunging  through  the  forest-wall 
Although  the  rifle  waits  beside  the  lake. 

Art  has  no  nations— but  the  mortal  sky 
Lingers  like  gold  in  immortality. 

This  flesh  was  seeded  from  no  foreign  grain 
But  Pennsylvania  and  Kentucky  wheat, 
And  it  has  soaked  in  California  rain 
And  five  years  tempered  in  New  England  sleet 

To  strive  at  last,  against  an  alien  proof 
And  by  the  changes  of  an  alien  moon, 
To  build  again  that  blue,  American  roof 
Over  a  half -forgotten  battle-tune 

And  call  unsurely,  from  a  haunted  ground, 
Armies  of  shadows  and  the  shadow-sound. 

In  your  Long  House  there  is  an  attic-place 
Full  of  dead  epics  and  machines  that  rust, 
And  there,  occasionally,  with  casual  face, 
You  come  awhile  to  stir  the  sleepy  dust; 

Neither  in  pride  nor  tnercy,  but  in  vast 
Indifference  at  so  many  gifts  unsought, 
The  yellowed  satins,  smelling  of  the  past, 
And  all  the  loot  the  lucky  pirates  brought. 

I  only  bring  a  cup  of  silver  air, 

Yet,  in  your  casualness,  receive  it  there. 

Receive  the  dream  too  haughty  for  the  breast, 
Receive  the  words  that  should  have  walked  as  bold 
As  the  storm  walks  along  the  mountain-crest 
And  are  like  beggars  whining  in  the  cold. 

The  maimed  presumption,  the  unskilful  skill, 
The  patchwork  colors,  fading  from  the  first, 
And  all  the  fire  that  fretted  at  the  will 
With  such  a  barren  ecstasy  of  thirst. 

Receive  them  all— and  should  you  choose  to  touch  them 
With  one  slant  ray  of  quick,  American  light, 
Even  the  dust  will  have  no  power  to  smutch  them, 
Even  the  worst  will  glitter  in  the  night. 

If  not—the  dry  bones  littered  by  the  way 
May  still  point  giants  toward  their  golden  prey. 



He  closed  the  Bible  carefully,  putting  it  down 
As  if  his  fingers  loved  it. 

Then  he  turned. 
"Mr.  Mate." 

"Yes,  sir." 

The  captain's  eyes  held  a  shadow. 
"I  think,  while  this  weather  lasts,"  he  said,  after  a  pause, 
"We'd  better  get  them  on  deck  as  much  as  we  can. 
They  keep  better  that  way.  Besides,"  he  added,  unsmiling, 
"She's  begun  to  stink  already.  You've  noticed  it?" 

The  mate  nodded,  a  boyish  nod  of  half-apology, 
"And  only  a  week  out,  too,  sir." 

"Yes,"  said  the  skipper. 

His  eyes  looked  into  themselves.  "Well.  The  trade,"  he  said, 
"The  trade's  no  damn  perfume-shop."  He  drummed  with  his 


"Seem  to  be  quiet  tonight,"  he  murmured,  at  last. 
"Oh  yes  sir,  quiet  enough."  The  mate  flushed.  "Not 
What  you'd  call  quiet  at  home  but— quiet  enough." 

"Um,"  said  the  skipper.  "What  about  the  big  fellow?" 

"Tarbarrel,  sir?  The  man  who  says  he's  a  king? 

He  was  praying  to  something-it  made  the  others  restless. 

Mr.  Olsen  stopped  it." 

"I  don't  like  that,"  said  the  skipper. 

"It  was  only  an  idol,  sir." 


"A  stone  or  something." 

"But  he's  a  bad  tfne,  sir—a  regular  sullen  one- 
He— eyes  in  the  dark— like  a  cat's— enough  to  give  you—" 
The  mate  was  young.  He  shivered.  "The  creeps,"  he  said. 

"We've  had  that  kind,"  said  the  skipper.  His  mouth  was  hard 
Then  it  relaxed.  "Damn  cheating  Arabe!"  he  said, 
"I  told  them  I'd  take  no  more  o*  their  pennyweight  kings, 
Worth  pounds  to  look  at,  and  then  when  you  get  them  aboard 


Go  crazy  so  they  have  to  be  knocked  on  the  head 
Or  else  just  eat  up  their  hearts  and  die  in  a  week 
Taking  up  room  for  nothing." 

The  mate  hardly  heard  him,  thinking  of  something  else. 
"I'm  afraid  we'll  lose  some  more  of  the  women,"  he  said. 
"Well,  they're  a  scratch  lot,"  said  the  skipper,  "Any  sickness?" 

"Just  the  usual,  sir." 

"But  nothing  like  plague  or—" 

"No  sir." 

"The  Lord  is  merciful,"  said  the  skipper. 
His  voice  was  wholly  sincere— an  old  ship's  bell 
Hung  in  the  steeple  of  a  meeting-house 
With  all  New  England  and  the  sea's  noise  in  it. 
"Well,  you'd  better  take  another  look-see,  Mr.  Mate." 
The  mate  felt  his  lips  go  dry.  "Aye  aye,  sir,"  he  said, 
Wetting  his  lips  with  his  tongue.  As  he  left  the  cabin 
He  heard  the  Bible  being  opened  again. 

Lantern  in  hand,  he  went  down  to  the  hold. 
Each  time  he  went  he  had  a  trick  of  trying 
To  shut  the  pores  of  his  body  against  the  stench 
By  force  of  will,  by  thinking  of  salt  and  flowers, 
But  it  was  always  useless. 

He  kept  thinking: 

When  I  get  home,  when  I  get  a  bath  and  clean  food, 
When  I've  gone  swimming  out  beyond  the  Point 
In  that  cold  green,  so  cold  it  must  be  pure 
Beyond  the  purity  of  a  dissolved  star, 
When  I  get  rny  shore-clothes  on,  and  one  of  those  shirts 
Out  of  the  linen-closet  that  smells  of  lavender, 
Will  my  skin  smell  black  even  then,  will  my  skin  smell  black? 

The  lantern  shook  in  his  hand. 

This  was  black,  here, 

This  was  black  to  see  and  feel  and  smell  and  taste, 
The  blackness  of  black,  with  one  weak  lamp  to  light  it 
As  ineffectually  as  a  firefly  in  Hell, 
And,  being  so,  should  be  silent. 

But  the  hold 
Was  never  silent. 

There  was  always  that  breathing. 
Always  that  thick  breathing,  always  those  shivering  cries. 

A  few  of  the  slaves 

Knew  English-at  least  the  English  for  water  and  Jesus. 

Tm  dying."  "Sick."  "My  name  Caesar." 

Those  who  knew 

These  things,  said  these  things  now  when  they  saw  the  lantern 
Mechanically,  as  tamed  beasts  answer  the  whipcrack. 
Their  voices  beat  at  the  light  like  heavy  moths. 
But  most  made  merely  liquid  or  guttural  sounds 
Meaningless  to  the  mate,  but  horribly  like 
The  sounds  of  palateless  men  or  animals  trying 
To  talk  through  a  human  throat. 

The  mate  was  used 

To  the  confusion  of  limbs  and  bodies  by  now. 
At  first  it  had  made  him  think  of  the  perturbed 
Blind  coil  of  blacksnakes  thawing  on  a  rock 
In  the  bleak  sun  of  Spring,  or  Judgment  Day 
Just  after  the  first  sounding  of  the  trump 
When  all  earth  seethes  and  crumbles  with  the  slow 
Vast,  mouldy  resurrection  of  the  dead. 
But  he  had  passed  such  fancies. 

He  must  see 

As  much  as  he  could.  He  couldn't  see  very  much. 
They  were  too  tightly  packed  but-no  plague  yet, 
And  all  the  chains  were  fast.  Then  he  saw  something. 
The  woman  was  asleep  but  her  baby  was  dead. 
He  woadered  whether  to  take  it  from  her  now. 
No,  it  would  only  rouse  the  others.  Tomorrow. 
He  turned  away  with  a  shiver. 

His  glance  fell 

Ori  the  man  who  said  he  had  been  a  king,  the  man 
Called  Tarbarrel,  the  image  of  black  stone 
Whose  eyes  were  savage  gods. 

The  huge  suave  muscles 

Rippled  like  stretching  cats  as  he  changed  posture, 
Magnificence  in  chains  that  yet  was  ease. 
The  smolder  in  those  eyes.  The  steady  hate. 

The  mate  made  himself  stare  till  the  eyes  dropped. 
Then  he  turned  back  to  the  companionway. 


His  forehead  was  hot  and  sweaty.  He  wiped  it  off, 
But  then  the  rough  cloth  of  his  sleeve  smelt  black. 

The  captain  shut  the  Bible  as  he  came  in. 
"Well,  Mister  Mate? " 

"All  quiet,  sir." 

The  captain 

Looked  at  him  sharply.  "Sit  down,"  he  said  in  a  bark. 
The  mate's  knees  gave  as  he  sat.  "It's— hot  down  there," 
He  said,  a  little  weakly,  wanting  to  wipe 
His  face  again,  but  knowing  he'd  smell  that  blackness 
Again,  if  he  did. 

"Takes  you  that  way,  sometimes," 
Said  the  captain,  not  unkindly,  "I  remember 
Back  in  the  twenties." 

Something  hot  and  strong 
Bit  the  mate's  throat.  He  coughed. 

"There,"  said  the  captain, 
Putting  the  cup  down.  "You'll  feel  better  now. 
You're  young  for  this  trade,  Mister,  and  that's  a  fact." 

The  mate  coughed  and  didn't  answer,  much  too  glad 
To  see  the  captain  change  back  to  himself 
From  something  made  of  steam,  to  want  to  talk. 
But,  after  a  while,  he  heard  the  captain  talking, 
Half  to  himself. 

"It's  a  fact,  that,"  he  was  saying, 
"They've  even  made  a  song  of  me— ever  heard  it?" 
The  mate  shook  his  head,  quickly,  "Oh  yes  you  have. 
You  know  how  it  goes."  He  cleared  his  throat  and  hummed: 

"Captain  Ball  'was  a  Yankee  slaver  y 
Blow,  blow,  blow  the  man  down! 
He  traded  in  niggers  and  loved  his  Saviour, 
Give  me  some  time  to  blow  the  man  down" 

The  droning  chanty  filled  the  narrow  cabin 
An  instant  with  grey  Massachusetts  sea, 
Wave  of  the  North,  wave  of  the  melted  ice, 
The  hard  salt-sparkles  on  the  harder  rock. 
The  stony  islands. 

Then  it  died  away. 


"Well,"  said  the  captain,  "if  that's  how  it  strikes  them- 
They  mean  it  bad  but  I  don't  take  it  bad. 
I  get  my  sailing-orders  from  the  Lord." 
He  touched  the  Bible.  "And  it's  down  there,  Mister, 
Down  there  in  black  and  white—the  sons  of  Ham- 
Bondservants— sweat  of  their  brows."  His  voice  trailed  off 
Into  texts.  "I  tell  you,  Mister,"  he  said  fiercely, 
"The  pay's  good  pay,  but  it's  the  Lord's  work,  too. 
We're  spreading  the  Lord's  seed— spreading  his  seed—" 

His  hand  made  the  outflung  motion  of  a  sower 

And  the  mate,  staring,  seemed  to  hear  the  slight 

Patter  of  fallen  seeds  on  fertile  ground, 

Black,  shining  seeds,  robbed  from  a  black  king's  storehouse, 

Falling  and  falling  on  American  earth 

With  light,  inexorable  patter  and  fall, 

To  strike,  lie  silent,  quicken. 

Till  the  Spring 

Came  with  its  weeping  rains,  and  the  ground  bore 
A  blade,  a  shadow-sapling,  a  tree  of  shadow, 
A  black-leaved  tree  whose  trunk  and  roots  were  shadow, 
A  tree  shaped  like  a  yoke,  growing  and  growing 
Until  it  blotted  all  the  seamen's  stars. 

Horses  of  anger  trampling,  horses  of  anger, 
Trampling  behind  the  sky  in  ominous  cadence, 
Beat  of  the  heavy  hooves  like  metal  on  metal, 
Trampling  something  down.  .  .  . 

Was  it  they,  was  it  they? 

Or  was  it  cold  wind  in  the  leaves  of  the  shadow-tree 
That  made  such  grievous  music? 

Oh  Lordy  Je-sus 

Won't  you  come  and  find  me? 

They  put  me  in  jail,  Lord, 

Way  down  in  the  jail. 

Won't  you  send  me  a  pro-phet 

Just  one  of  your  prophets 

Like  Moses  and  Aaron 

To  get  me  some  bail? 


I'm  feeling  poorly- 
Yes,  mighty  poorly, 
I  ain't  got  no  strength,  Lord, 
I'm  all  trampled  down. 
So  send  me  an  angel 
Just  any  old  angel 
To  give  me  a  robe,  Lord, 
And  give  me  a  crown. 

Oh  Lordy  Jc-sus 

It's  a  long  time  comin' 

It's  a  long  time  co-o-min' 

That  Jubilee  time. 

We'll  wait  and  we'll  pray,  Lord, 

We'll  wait  and  we'll  pray,  Lord, 

But  it's  a  long  time,  Lord, 

Yes,  it's  a  long  time. 

The  dark  sobbing  ebbed  away. 

The  captain  was  still  talking.  "Yes,"  he  said, 

"And  yet  we  treat  'em  well  enough.  There's  no  one 

From  Salem  to  the  Guinea  Coast  can  say 

They  lose  as  few  as  I  do."  He  stopped. 

"Well,  Mister?" 
The  mate  arose.  "Good  night  sir  and—" 

"Good  night." 

The  mate  went  up  on  deck.  The  breeze  was  fresh. 
There  were  the  stars,  steady.  He  shook  himself 
Like  a  dog  coming  out  of  water  and  felt  better. 
Six  weeks,  with  luck,  and  they'd  be  back  in  port 
And  he  could  draw  his  pay  and  see  his  girl. 
Meanwhile,  it  wasn't  his  watch,  so  he  could  sleep. 
The  captain  still  below,  reading  that  Bible.  .  .  . 
Forget  it— and  the  noises,  still  half-heard— 
He'd  have  to  go  below  to  sleep,  this  time, 
But  after,  if  the  weather  held  like  this, 
He'd  have  them  sling  a  hammock  up  on  deck. 
You  couldn't  smell  the  black  so  much  on  deck 
And  so  you  didn't  dream  it  when  you  slept. 


Jack  Ellyat  had  been  out  all  day  alone, 
Except  for  his  new  gun  and  Ned,  the  setter, 
The  old  wise  dog  with  Autumn  in  his  eyes, 
Who  stepped  the  fallen  leaves  so  delicately 
They  barely  rustled.  Ellyat  trampled  them  down 
Crackling,  like  cast-off  skins  of  fairy  snakes. 
He'd  meant  to  hunt,  but  he  had  let  the  gun 
Rest  on  his  shoulder. 

It  was  enough  to  feel 
The  cool  air  of  the  last  of  Indian  summer 
Blowing  continually  across  his  cheek 
And  watch  the  light  distill  its  water  of  gold 
As  the  sun  dropped. 

Here  was  October,  here 
Was  ruddy  October,  the  old  harvester, 
Wrapped  like  a  beggared  sachem  in  a  coat 
Of  tattered  tanager  and  partridge  feathers, 
Scattering  jack-o-lanterns  everywhere 
To  give  the  field-mice  pumpkin-colored  moons. 
His  red  clay  pipe  had  trailed  across  the  land 
Staining  the  trees  with  colors  of  the  sumach: 
East,  West,  South,  North,  the  ceremonial  fume 
Blue  and  enchanted  as  the  soul  of  air 
Drifted  its  incense. 

Incense  of  the  wild, 
Incense  of  earth  fulfilled,  ready  to  sleep 
The  stupefied  dark  slumber  or  the  bear 
All  winter,  underneath  a  frozen  star. 

Jack  Ellyat  felt  that  turning  of  the  year 

Stir  in  his  blood  lil^e  drowsy  fiddle-music 

And  knew  he  was  glad  to  be  Connecticut-born 

And  young  enough  to  find  Connecticut  winter 

Was  a  black  pond  to  cut  with  silver  skates 

And  not  a  scalping-knife  against  the  throat. 

He  thought  the  thoughts  of  youth,  idle  and  proud. 

Since  I  was  begotten 
My  father's  grown  wise 


But  he  has  forgotten 
The  wind  in  the  skies. 
I  shall  not  grow  wise. 

Since  I  have  been  growing 

My  uncle's  got  rich. 

He  spends  his  time  sowing 

A  bottomless  ditch. 

I  will  not  grow  rich. 

For  money  is  sullen 
And  wisdom  is  sly, 
But  youth  is  the  pollen 
That  blows  through  the  sky 
And  does  not  ask  why. 

O  wisdom  and  money 
How  can  you  requite 
The  honey  of  honey 
That  flies  in  that  flight? 
The  useless  delight? 

So,  with  his  back  against  a  tree,  he  stared 

At  the  pure,  golden  feathers  in  the  West 

Until  the  sunset  flowed  into  his  heart 

Like  a  slow  wave  of  honey-dropping  dew 

Murmuring  from  the  other  side  of  Sleep. 

There  was  a  fairy  hush 

Everywhere.  Even  the  setter  at  his  feet 

Lay  there  as  if  the  twilight  had  bewitched 

His  russet  paws  into  two  russet  leaves, 

A  dog  of  russet  leaves  who  did  not  stir  a  hair. 

Then  something  broke  the  peace. 
Like  wind  it  was,  the  flutter  of  rising  wind, 
But  then  it  grew  until  it  was  the  rushing 
Of  winged  stallions,  distant  and  terrible, 
Trampling  beyond  the  sky. 

The  hissing  charge 
Of  lightless  armies  of  angelic  horse 
Galloping  down  the  stars. 

There  were  no  words 

In  that  implacable  and  feathery  thunder, 
And  yet  there  must  have  been,  or  Ellyat's  mind 
Caught  them  like  broken  arrows  out  of  the  air. 

Thirteen  sisters  beside  the  sea, 

(Have  a  care,  my  son.) 

Builded  a  house  called  Liberty 

And  locked  the  doors  with  a  stately  key. 

None  should  enter  it  but  the  free. 

(Have  a  care,  my  son.) 

The  walls  are  solid  as  Plymouth  Rock. 

(Rock  can  crumble,  my  son.) 

The  door  of  seasoned  New  England  stock. 

Before  it  a  Yankee  fighting-cock 

Pecks  redcoat  kings  away  from  the  lock. 

(Fighters  can  die,  my  son.) 

The  hearth  is  a  corner  where  sages  sit. 

(Sages  pass,  my  son.) 

Washington's  heart  lies  under  it. 

And  the  long  roof-beams  are  chiseled  and  split 

From  hickory  tough  as  Jackson's  wit. 

(Bones  in  the  dust,  my  son.) 

The  trees  in  the  garden  are  fair  and  fine. 

(Trees  blow  down,  my  son.) 

Connecticut  elm  and  Georgia  pine. 

The  warehouse  groans  with  cotton  and  swine. 

The  cellar  is  full  of  scuppernong-wine. 

(Wine  turns  sour,  my  son.) 

Surely  a  house  so  strong  and  bold, 
(The  wind  is  rising,  my  son,) 
Will  last  till  Time  is  a  pinch  of  mould! 
There  is  a  ghost,  when  the  night  is  old. 
There  is  a  ghost  who  walks  in  the  cold. 
(The  trees  are  shaking,  my  son.) 

The  sisters  sleep  on  Liberty's  breast, 
(The  thunder  thunders,  my  son,) 
Like  thirteen  swans  in  a  single  nest. 


But  the  ghost  is  naked  and  will  nut 
Until  the  sun  rise  out  of  the  West. 
(The  lightning  lightens,  my  son.) 

AH  night  long  like  a  moving  stain, 
(The  trees  are  breaking,  my  son,) 
The  black  ghost  wanders  his  house  of  pain. 
There  is  blood  where  his  hand  has  lain. 
It  is  wrong  he  should  wear  a  chain. 
(The  sky  is  falling,  my  son.) 

The  warning  beat  at  his  mind  like  a  bird  and  passed. 

Ellyat  roused.  He  thought:  they  are  going  South. 

He  stared  at  the  sky,  confused.  It  was  empty  and  bleak. 

But  still  he  felt  the  shock  of  the  hooves  on  his  heart. 

—The  riderless  horses  never  bridled  or  tamed— 

He  heard  them  screaming  like  eagles  loosed  from  a  cloud 

As  they  drove  South  to  trample  the  indolent  sun, 

And  darkness  sat  in  his  mind  like  a  shadow  enthroned. 

He  could  not  read  the  riddle  their  flight  had  set 

But  he  felt  wretched,  and  glad  for  the  dog's  cold  nose 

That  now  came  nuzzling  his  hand. 

Who  has  set  you  free? 

Who  has  driven  you  out  in  the  sky  with  an  iron  whip 
Like  blind,  old  thunders  stubbornly  marching  abreast 
To  carry  a  portent  high  on  shoulders  of  stone 
The  length  and  breadth  of  the  Union? 
The  North  and  South  are  at  peace  and  the  East  and  West, 
The  tomahawk  is  buried  in  prairie-sod. 
The  great  frontier  rolls  westward  with  the  sun, 
And  the  new  States  are  crowding  at  the  door, 
The  buckskin-States,  the  buffalo-horned,  the  wild 
Mustangs  with  coats  the  color  of  crude  gold. 
Their  bodies,  naked  as  the  hunter's  moon, 
Smell  of  new  grass  and  the  sweet  milk  of  the  corn. 
Defiant  virgins,  fiercely  unpossessed 
As  the  bird-stars  that  walk  the  night  untrodden. 
They  drag  their  skies  and  sunsets  after  them 
Like  calico  ponies  on  a  rawhide  rope, 
And  who  would  ride  them  must  have  iron  thighs 
And  a  lean  heart,  bright  as  a  bowie-knife. 

Were  they  not  foaled  with  treasure  in  their  eyes 
Between  the  rattlesnake  and  the  painted  rock? 
Are  they  not  matches  for  vaquero  gods? 
Are  they  not  occupation  for  the  strength 
Of  a  whole  ruffian  world  of  pioneers? 
And  must  they  wait  like  spayed  mares  in  the  rain, 
While  Carolina  and  Connecticut 
Fight  an  old  quarrel  out  before  a  ghost? 

So  Ellyat  talked  to  his  young  indignation, 

Walking  back  home  with  the  October  moon. 

But,  even  as  he  mused,  he  tried  to  picture 

The  South,  that  languorous  land  where  Uncle  Toms 

Groaned  Biblically  underneath  the  lash, 

And  grinning  Topsies  mopped  and  mowed  behind 

Each  honeysuckle  vine. 

They  called  them  niggers 
And  cut  their  ears  off  when  they  ran  away, 
But  then  they  loved  their  mammies— there  was  that— 
Although  they  sometimes  sold  them  clown  the  river— 
And  when  the  niggers  were  not  getting  licked 
Or  quoting  Scripture,  they  sang  funny  songs, 
By  the  Swanee  river,  on  the  old  plantation. 

The  girls  were  always  beautiful.  The  men 

Wore  varnished  boots,  raced  horses  and  played  cards 

And  drank  mint-juleps  till  the  time  came  round 

For  fighting  duels  with  their  second  cousins 

Or  tar-and-feathering  some  God-damn  Yankee.  .  .  . 

The  South  .  .  .  the  honeysuckle  ...  the  hot  sun  .  .  . 

The  taste  of  ripe  persimmons  and  sugar-cane  .  .  . 

The  cloyed  and  waxy  sweetness  of  magnolias  .  .  . 

White  cotton,  blowing  like  a  fallen  cloud, 

And  foxhounds  belling  the  Virginia  hills  .  .  . 

And  then  the  fugitive  slave  he'd  seen  in  Boston, 
The  black  man  with  the  eyes  of  a  tortured  horse. . .  e 

He  whistled  Ned.  What  do  you  think  of  it,  Ned? 
We're  abolitionists,  I  suppose,  and  Father 
Talks  about  Wendell  Phillips  and  John  Brown 
But,  even  so,  that  doesn't  have  to  mean 


We'll  break  the  Union  up  for  abolition, 
And  they  can't  want  to  break  it  up  for  slavery- 
It  won't  come  to  real  fighting,  will  it,  Ned? 
But  Ned  was  busy  with  a  rabbit-track. 
There  was  the  town—the  yellow  window  of  home* 

Meanwhile,  in  Concord,  Emerson  and  Thoreau 
Talked  of  an  ideal  state,  so  purely  framed 
It  never  could  exist. 

Meanwhile,  in  Boston 
Minister  Higginson  and  Dr.  Howe 
Waited  for  news  about  a  certain  project 
That  had  to  do  with  pikes  and  Harper's  Ferry. 

Meanwhile,  in  Georgia,  Clay  Wingate  dreamed. 

Settled  more  than  a  hundred  year 

By  the  river  and  county  of  St.  Savier, 

The  Wingates  held  their  ancestry 

As  high  as  Taliaferro  or  Huger, 

Maryland  Carroll,  Virginia  Lee. 

They  had  ill-spelt  letters  of  Albemarle's 

And  their  first  grant  ran  from  the  second  Charles, 

Clerkly  inscribed  upon  parchmentries 

"To  our  well-beloved  John  Wingate,  these/' 

Though  envy  hinted  the  royal  mood 

Held  more  of  humor  than  gratitude 

And  the  well-beloved  had  less  applied 

To  honest  John  than  his  tall  young  bride, 

At  least  their  eldest  to  John's  surprise, 

Was  very  like  Monmouth  about  the  eyes, 

Till  his  father  wondered  if  every  loyalty 

Was  always  so  richly  repaid  by  royalty, 

But,  having  long  found  that  the  principal  question 

In  a  happy  life  is  a  good  digestion 

And  the  worst  stomachic  of  all  is  jealousy 

He  gave  up  the  riddle,  and  settled  zealously 

To  farming  his  acres,  begetting  daughters, 

And  making  a  study  of  cordial  waters 

Till  he  died  at  ninety  of  pure  senility 

And  was  greatly  mourned  by  the  local  gentility. 


John  the  Second  was  different  cloth. 

He  had  wings— but  the  wings  of  the  moth. 

Courtly,  unlucky,  clever  and  wise, 

There  was  a  Stuart  in  his  eyes, 

A  gambler  that  played  against  loaded  dice. 

He  could  harrow  the  water  and  plough  the  sand, 

But  he  could  not  do  the  thing  at  hand. 

A  fencing-foil  too  supple  for  use, 

A  racing  colt  that  must  run  at  loose. 

And  the  Wingate  acres  had  slipped  away 

If  it  had  not  been  for  Elspeth  Mackay. 

She  was  his  wife,  and  her  heart  was  bold 

As  a  broad,  bright  guinea  of  Border  gold. 

Her  wit  was  a  tartan  of  colored  weather. 

Her  walk  was  gallant  as  Highland  heather. 

And  whatever  she  had,  she  held  together. 

It  was  she  who  established  on  Georgia  soil 

Wingate  honor  and  Wingate  toil 

When  John  and  his  father's  neighbors  stood 

At  swords'  points  over  a  county  feud 

And  only  ill-fortune  and  he  were  friends. 

—They  prophesied  her  a  dozen  ends, 

Seeking  new  ground  for  a  broken  man 

Where  only  the  deer  and  the  rabbit  ran 

And  the  Indian  arrow  harried  both, 

But  she  held  her  word  and  she  kept  her  troth, 

Cleared  the  forest  and  tamed  the  wild 

And  gave  the  breast  to  the  new-born  child 

While  the  painted  Death  went  whooping  by 

—To  die  at  last  as  she  wished  to  die 

In  the  fief  built  out  of  her  blood  and  bone 

With  her  heart  for  the  Hall's  foundation-stone. 

Deep  in  her  sons,  and  the  Wingate  blood, 
She  stamped  her  sigil  of  fortitude. 
Thrift  and  love  for  the  house  and  the  chief 
And  a  scone  on  the  hob  for  the  son  of  grief. 
But  a  knife  in  the  ribs  for  the  pleasant  thief \ 
And  deep  in  her  sons,  when  she  was  gone, 
Her  words  took  root,  and  her  ghost  lived  on. 
The  slow  voice  haunting  the  ocean-shell 


To  counsel  the  sons  of  her  sons  as  well. 

And  it  was  well  for  the  Wingate  line 

To  have  that  stiffening  set  in  its  spine. 

For  once  in  each  breeding  of  Wingate  kin 

There  came  a  child  with  an  olive  skin 

And  the  mouth  of  Charles,  the  merry  and  sad, 

And  the  bright,  spoilt  charm  that  Monmouth  had. 

Luckily  seldom  the  oldest  born 

To  sow  the  nettle  in  Wingate  corn 

And  let  the  cotton  blight  on  its  stalk 

While  he  wasted  his  time  in  witty  talk, 

Or  worse,  in  love  with  no  minister  handy, 

Or  feeding  a  spaniel  on  nuts  and  brandy 

And  taking  a  melancholy  pride 

In  never  choosing  the  winning  side. 

Clay  Wingate  was  the  last  to  feel 

The  prick  of  that  spur  of  tarnished  steel, 

Gilt,  but  crossed  with  the  dubious  bar 

Of  arms  won  under  the  bastard's  star, 

Rowel  his  mind,  at  that  time  or  this, 

With  thoughts  and  visions  that  were  not  his. 

A  sorrow  of  laughter,  a  mournful  glamor 

And  the  ghostly  stroke  of  an  airy  hammer 

Shaking  his  heart  with  pity  and  pride 

That  had  nothing  to  do  with  the  things  he  eyed. 

He  was  happy  and  young,  he  was  strong  and  stout, 

His  body  was  hard  to  weary  out. 

When  he  thought  of  life,  he  thought  of  a  shout. 

But— there  was  a  sword  in  a  blackened  sheath, 

There  was  a  shape  with  a  mourning  wreath: 

And  a  place  in  his  mind  was  a  wrestling-ring 

Where  the  crownless  form  of  an  outlawed  king 

Fought  with  a  shadow  too  like  his  own, 

And,  late  or  early,  was  overthrown. 

It  is  not  lucky  ro  dream  such  stuff- 
Dreaming  men  are  haunted  men. 
Though  Wingate's  face  looked  lucky  enough 
To  any  eye  that  had  seen  him  then, 
Riding  back  through  the  Georgia  Fall 
To  the  white-pillared  porch  of  Wingate  Hall. 


Fall  of  the  possum,  fall  of  the  'coon, 

And  the  lop-eared  hound-dog  baying  the  moon. 

Fall  that  is  neither  bitter  nor  swift 

But  a  brown  girl  bearing  an  idle  gift, 

A  brown  seed-kernel  that  splits  apart 

And  shows  the  Summer  yet  in  its  heart, 

A  smokiness  so  vague  in  the  air 

You  feel  it  rather  than  see  it  there, 

A  brief,  white  rime  on  the  red  clay  road 

And  slow  mules  creaking  a  lazy  load 

Through  endless  acres  of  afternoon, 

A  pine-cone  fire  and  a  banjo-tune, 

And  a  julep  mixed  with  a  silver  spoon. 

Your  noons  are  hot,  your  nights  deep-starred, 
There  is  honeysuckle  still  in  the  yard, 
Fall  of  the  quail  and  the  firefly-glows 
And  the  pot-pourri  of  the  rambler-rose, 
Fall  that  brings  no  promise  of  snows  .  .  . 

Wingate  checked  on  his  horse's  rein 

With  a  hand  as  light  as  a  butterfly 

And  drank  content  in  body  and  brain 

As  he  gazed  for  a  moment  at  the  sky. 

This  was  his  Georgia,  this  his  share 

Of  pine  and  river  and  sleepy  air, 

Of  summer  thunder  and  winter  rain 

That  spills  bright  tears  on  the  window-pane 

With  the  slight,  fierce  passion  of  young  men's  grief, 

Of  the  mockingbird  and  the  mulberry-leaf. 

For,  wherever  the  winds  of  Georgia  run, 

It  smells  of  peaches  long  in  the  sun, 

And  the  white  wolf-winter,  hungry  and  frore, 

Can  prowl  the  North  by  a  frozen  door 

But  here  we  have  fed  him  on  bacon-fat 

And  he  sleeps  by  the  stove  like  a  lazy  cat. 

Here  Christmas  stops  at  everyone's  house 

With  a  jug  of  molasses  and  green,  young  boughs, 

And  the  little  New  Year,  the  weakling  one, 

Can  lie  outdoors  in  the  noonday  sun, 

Blowing  the  fluff  from  a  turkey-wing 

At  skies  already  haunted  with  Spring— 


Oh,  Georgia  .  .  .  Georgia  .  .  .  the  careless  yield! 
The  watermelons  ripe  in  the  field! 
The  mist  in  the  bottoms  that  tastes  of  fever 
And  the  yellow  river  rolling  forever.  .  .  ! 

So  Wingate  saw  it,  vision  or  truth, 

Through  the  colored  window  of  his  own  youth, 

Building  an  image  out  of  his  mind 

To  live  or  die  for,  as  Fate  inclined. 

He  drank  his  fill  of  the  air,  and  then, 
Was  just  about  to  ride  on  again 
When— what  was  that  noise  beyond  the  sky, 
That  harry  of  unseen  cavalry 
Riding  the  wind? 

His  own  horse  stirred, 
Neighing.  He  listened.  There  was  a  word. 
He  could  not  hear  it— and  yet  he  heard. 
It  was  an  arrow  from  ambush  flung, 
It  was  a  bell  with  a  leaden  tongue 
Striking  an  hour. 

He  was  young 

No  longer.  He  and  his  horse  were  old, 
And  both  were  bound  with  an  iron  band. 
He  slipped  from  the  saddle  and  tried  to  stand. 
He  struck  one  hand  with  the  other  hand. 
But  both  were  cold. 

The  horses,  burning-hooved,  drove  on  toward  the  sea, 
But,  where  they  had  passed,  the  air  was  troubled  and  sick 
Like  earth  that  the  shoulder  of  earthquake  heavily  stirs. 
There  was  a  whisper  moving  that  air  all  night, 
A  whisper  that  cried  and  whimpered  about  the  house 
Where  John  Brown  prayed  to  his  God,  by  his  narrow  bed. 


Omnipotent  and  steadfast  God, 
Who,  in  Thy  mercy,  hath 
Upheaved  in  me  Jehovah's  rod 
And  his  chastising  wrath, 


For  fifty-nine  unsparing  years 
Thy  Grace  hath  worked  apart 
To  mould  a  man  of  iron  tears 
With  a  bullet  for  a  heart. 

Yet,  since  this  body  may  be  weak 
With  all  it  has  to  bear, 
Once  more,  before  Thy  thunders  speak, 
Almighty,  hear  my  prayer. 

I  saw  Thee  when  Thou  did  display 
The  black  man  and  his  lord 
To  bid  me  free  the  one,  and  slay 
The  other  with  the  sword. 

I  heard  Thee  when  Thou  bade  me  spurn 
Destruction  from  my  hand 
And,  though  all  Kansas  bleed  and  burn, 
It  was  at  Thy  command. 

I  hear  the  rolling  of  the  wheels, 
The  chariots  of  war! 
I  hear  the  breaking  of  the  seals 
And  the  opening  of  the  door! 

The  glorious  beasts  with  many  eyes 
Exult  before  the  Crowned. 
The  buried  saints  arise,  arise 
Like  incense  from  the  ground! 

Before  them  march  the  martyr-kings, 
In  bloody  sunsets  drest, 
O,  Kansas,  bleeding  Kansas, 
You  will  not  let  me  rest! 

I  hear  your  sighing  corn  again, 
1  smell  your  prairie-sky, 
And  1  remember  five  dead  men 
By  Pottaivattomie. 

Lord  God  it  was  a  work  of  Thine, 
And  how  might  I  refrain? 


But  Kansas,  bleeding  Kansas, 
I  hear  her  in  her  pain. 

Her  corn  is  rustling  in  the  ground, 
An  arro'w  in  my  flesh. 
And  all  night  long  I  staunch  a  wound 
That  ever  bleeds  afresh. 

Get  up,  get  up,  my  hardy  sons, 
From  this  time  forth  we  are 
No  longer  men,  but  pikes  and  guns 
In  God's  advancing  war. 

And  if  we  live,  we  free  the  slave, 
And  if  we  die,  we  die. 
But  God  has  digged  His  saints  a  grave 
Beyond  the  western  sky. 

Oh,  fairer  than  the  bugle-call 
Its  walls  of  jasper  shine! 
And  Joshua's  sword  is  on  the  wall 
With  space  beside  for  mine. 

And  should  the  Philistine  defend 
His  strength  against  our  blows, 
The  God  who  doth  not  spare  His  friend, 
Will  not  forget  His  foes. 

They  reached  the  Maryland  bridge  of  Harper's  Ferry 
That  Sunday  night.  There  were  twenty-two  in  all, 
Nineteen  were  under  thirty,  three  not  twenty-one, 
Kagi,  the  self-taught  scholar,  quiet  and  cool, 
Stevens,  the  cashiered  soldier,  Puritan-fathered, 
A  singing  giant,  gunpowder-tempered  and  rash. 
Dauphin  Thompson,  the  pippin-cheeked  country-boy, 
More  like  a  girl  than  a  warrior;  Oliver  Brown, 
Married  last  year  when  he  was  barely  nineteen; 
Dangerfield  Newby,  colored  and  born  a  slave, 
Freeman  now,  but  married  to  one  not  free 
Who,  with  their  seven  children,  waited  him  South, 
The  youngest  baby  just  beginning  to  crawl; 


Watson  Brown,  the  steady  lieutenant,  who  wrote 
Back  to  his  wife, 

"Oh,  Bell,  I  want  to  see  you 
And  the  little  fellow  very  much  but  must  wait. 
There  was  a  slave  near  nere  whose  wife  was  sold  South. 
They  found  him  hanging  in  Kennedy's  orchard  next  morning. 
I  cannot  come  home  as  long  as  such  things  are  done  here. 
I  sometimes  think  that  we  shall  not  meet  again." 

These  were  some  of  the  band.  For  better  or  worse 
They  were  all  strong  men. 

The  bearded  faces  look  strange 
In  the  old  daguerreotypes:  they  should  be  the  faces 
Of  prosperous,  small-town  people,  good  sons  and  fathers, 
Good  horse-shoe  pitchers,  good  at  plowing  a  field, 
Good  at  swapping  stories  and  good  at  praying, 
American  wheat,  nrm-rooted,  good  in  the  ear. 
There  is  only  one  whose  air  seems  out  of  the  common, 
Oliver  Brown.  That  face  has  a  masculine  beauty 
Somewhat  like  the  face  of  Keats. 

They  were  all  strong  men. 

They  tied  up  the  watchmen  and  took  the  riflcworks. 

Then  John  Brown  sent  a  raiding  party  away 

To  fetch  in  Colonel  Washington  from  his  farm. 

The  Colonel  was  George  Washington's  great-grand-nephew, 

Slave-owner,  gentleman-farmer,  but,  more  than  these, 

Possessor  of  a  certain  fabulous  sword 

Given  to  Washington  by  Frederick  the  Great. 

They  captured  him  and  his  sword  and  brought  them  along 


The  act  has  a  touch  of  drama, 
Half  costume-romance,  half  unmerited  farce. 
On  the  way,  they  told  the  Washington  slaves  they  were  free, 
Or  free  to  fight  for  their  freedom. 

The  slaves  heard  the  news 

With  the  dazed,  scared  eyes  of  cattle  before  a  storm. 
A  few  came  back  with  the  band  and  were  given  pikes, 
And,  when  John  Brown  was  watching,  pretended  to  mount 
A  slipshod  guard  over  the  prisoners. 
But,  when  he  had  walked  away,  they  put  down  their  pikes 
And  huddled  together,  talking  in  mourning  voices. 


It  didn't  seem  right  to  play  at  guarding  the  Colonel 
But  they  were  afraid  of  the  bearded  patriarch 
With  the  Old  Testament  eyes. 

A  little  later 

It  was  Patrick  Higgins'  turn.  He  was  the  night-watchman 
Of  the  Maryland  bridge,  a  tough  little  Irishman 
With  a  canny,  humorous  face,  and  a  twist  in  his  speech. 
He  came  humming  his  way  to  his  job. 

"Halt!"  ordered  a  voice. 

He  stopped  a  minute,  perplexed.  As  he  told  men  later, 
"Now  I  didn't  know  what  'Halt!'  mint,  any  more 
Than  a  hog  knows  about  a  holiday." 

There  was  a  scuffle. 

He  got  away  with  a  bullet-crease  in  his  scalp 
And  warned  the  incoming  train.  It  was  half-past-one. 
A  moment  later,  a  man  named  Shepherd  Heyward, 
Free  negro,  baggage-master  of  the  small  station, 
Well-known  in  the  town,  hardworking,  thrifty  and  fated, 
Came  looking  for  Higgins. 

"Halt!"  called  the  voice  again, 
But  he  kept  on,  not  hearing  or  understanding, 
Whichever  it  may  have  been. 

A  rifle  cracked. 

He  fell  by  the  station-platform,  gripping  his  belly, 
And  lay  for  twelve  hours  of  torment,  asking  for  water 
Until  he  was  able  to  die. 

There  is  no  stone, 

No  image  of  bronze  or  marble  green  with  the  rain 
To  Shepherd  Heyward,  free  negro  of  Harper's  Ferry, 
And  even  the  books,  the  careful,  ponderous  histories, 
That  turn  live  men  into  dummies  with  smiles  of  wax 
Thoughtfully  posed  against  a  photographer's  background 
In  the  act  of  signing  a  treaty  or  drawing  a  sword, 
Tell  little  of  what  he  was. 

And  yet  his  face 

Grey  with  pain  and  puzzled  at  sudden  death 
Stares  out  at  us  through  the  bookworm-dust  of  the  years 
With  an  uncomprehending  wonder,  a  blind  surprise. 
"I  was  getting  along,"  it  says,  "I  was  doing  well. 
I  had  six  thousand  dollars  saved  in  the  bank. 
It  was  a  good  town,  a  nice  town,  I  liked  the  folks 
And  they  liked  me.  I  had  a  good  job  there,  too. 

On  Sundays  I  used  to  dress  myself  up  slick  enough 

To  pass  the  plate  in  church,  but  I  wasn't  proud 

Not  even  when  trashy  niggers  called  me  Mister, 

Though  I  could  hear  the  old  grannies  over  their  snuff 

Mumbling  along,  'Look,  chile,  there  goes  Shepherd  Heyward. 

Ain't  him  fine  in  he  Sunday  clo'es— ain't  him  sassy  and  fine? 

You  grow  up  decent  and  don't  play  ball  in  the  street, 

And  maybe  you'll  get  like  him,  with  a  gold  watch  and  chain.' 

And  then,  suddenly— and  what  was  it  all  about? 

Why  should  anyone  (>vant  to  kill  me?  Why  was  it  done?" 

So  the  grey  lips.  And  so  the  hurt  in  the  eyes. 

A  hurt  like  a  child's,  at  punishment  unexplained 

That  makes  the  whole  child-universe  fall  to  pieces. 

At  the  time  of  death,  most  men  turn  back  toward  the  child. 

Brown  did  not  know  at  first  that  the  first  man  dead 
By  the  sword  he  thought  of  so  often  as  Gideon's  sword 
Was  one  of  the  race  he  had  drawn  that  sword  to  free. 
It  had  been  dark  on  the  bridge.  A  man  had  come 
And  had  not  halted  when  ordered.  Then  the  shot 
And  the  scrape  of  the  hurt  man  dragging  himself  away. 
That  was  all.  The  next  man  ordered  to  halt  would  halt. 
His  mind  was  too  full  of  the  burning  judgments  of  God 
To  wonder  who  it  had  been.  He  was  cool  and  at  peace. 
He  dreamt  of  a  lamb,  lying  down  by  a  rushing  stream. 

So  the  night  wore  away,  indecisive  and  strange. 

The  raiders  stuck  by  the  arsenal,  waiting  perhaps 

For  a  great  bell  of  jubilation  to  toll  in  the  sky, 

And  the  slaves  to  rush  from  the  hills  with  pikes  in  their  hands, 

A  host  redeemed,  black  rescue-armies  of  God. 

It  did  not  happen. 

Meanwhile,  there  was  casual  firing. 

A  townsman  named  Boerley  was  killed.  Meanwhile,  the  train 
Passed  over  the  bridge  to  carry  its  wild  news 
Of  abolition-devils  sprung  from  the  ground 
A  hundred  and  fifty,  three  hundred,  a  thousand  strong 
To  pillage  Harper's  Ferry,  with  fire  and  sword. 
Meanwhile  the  whole  countryside  was  springing  to  arms. 
The  alarm-bell  in  Charlestown  clanged  "Nat  Turner  has  come. 
Nat  Turner  has  come  again,  all  smoky  from  Hell, 


Setting  the  slave  to  murder  and  massacre!" 

The  Jefferson  Guards  fell  in.  There  were  boys  and  men. 

They  had  no  uniforms  but  they  had  weapons. 

Old  squirrel-rifles,  taken  down  from  the  wall, 

Shot  guns  loaded  with  spikes  and  scraps  of  iron. 

A  boy  dragged  a  blunderbuss  as  big  as  himself. 

They  started  for  the  Ferry. 

In  a  dozen 

A  score  of  other  sleepy,  neighboring  towns 
The  same  bell  clanged,  the  same  militia  assembled. 

The  Ferry  itself  was  roused  and  stirring  with  dawn. 
And  the  firing  began  again. 

A  queer,  harsh  sound 

In  the  ordinary  streets  of  that  clean,  small  town, 
A  desultory,  vapid,  meaningless  sound. 

God  knows  why  John  Brown  lingered!  Kagi,  the  scholar, 

Who,  with  two  others,  held  the  rifle-works, 

All  morning  sent  him  messages  urging  retreat. 

They  had  the  inexorable  weight  of  common  sense 

Behind  them,  but  John  Brown  neither  replied 

Nor  heeded,  brooding  in  the  patriarch-calm 

Of  a  lean,  solitary  pine  that  hangs 

On  the  cliff's  edge,  and  sees  the  world  below 

A  tiny  pattern  of  toy  fields  and  trees, 

And  only  feels  its  roots  gripping  the  rock 

And  the  almighty  wind  that  shakes  its  boughs, 

Blowing  from  eagle-heaven  to  eagle-heaven. 

Of  course  they  were  cut  off.  The  whole  attempt 
Was  fated  from  the  first. 

Just  about  noon 

The  Jefferson  Guards  took  the  Potomac  Bridge 
And  drove  away  the  men  Brown  posted  there. 

There  were  three  doors  of  possible  escape 
Open  to  Brown.  With  this  the  first  slammed  shut. 
The  second  followed  it  a  little  later 
With  the  recapture  of  the  other  bridge 
That  cut  Brown  off  from  Kagi  and  the  arsenal 
And  penned  the  larger  body  of  the  raiders 
In  the  armory. 


Again  the  firing  rolled, 
And  now  the  first  of  the  raiders  fell  and  died, 
Dangerfield  Newby,  the  freed  Scotch-mulatto 
Whose  wife  and  seven  children,  slaves  in  Virginia, 
Waited  for  him  to  bring  them  incredible  freedom. 
They  were  sold  South  instead,  after  the  raid. 
His  body  lay  where  the  townspeople  could  reach  it. 
They  cut  off  his  ears  for  trophies. 

If  there  are  souls, 

As  many  think  that  there  are  or  wish  that  there  might  be, 
Crystalline  things  that  rise  on  light  wings  exulting 
Out  of  the  spoilt  and  broken  cocoon  of  the  body, 
Knowing  no  sorrow  or  pain  but  only  deliverance, 
And  yet  with  the  flame  of  speech,  the  patterns  of  memory, 
One  wonders  what  the  soul  of  Dangerfield  Newby 
Said,  in  what  terms,  to  the  soul  of  Shepherd  Heyward, 
Both  born  slave,  both  freed,  both  dead  the  same  day. 
What  do  the  souls  that  bleed  from  the  corpse  of  battle 
Say  to  the  tattered  night? 

Perhaps  it  is  better 
We  have  no  power  to  visage  what  they  might  say. 

The  firing  now  was  constant,  like  the  heavy 

And  drumming  rains  of  summer.  Twice  Brown  sent 

Asking  a  truce.  The  second  time  there  went 

Stevens  and  Watson  Brown  with  a  white  flag. 

But  things  had  gone  beyond  the  symbol  of  flags. 

Stevens,  shot  from  a  window,  fell  in  the  gutter 

Horribly  wounded.  Watson  Brown  crawled  back 

To  the  engine  house  that  was  the  final  fort 

Of  Brown's  last  stand,  torn  through  and  through  with  slugs. 

A  Mr.  Brua,  one  of  Brown's  prisoners, 
Strolled  out  from  the  unguarded  prison-room 
Into  the  bullets,  lifted  Stevens  up, 
i  Carried  him  over  to  the  old  hotel 
They  called  the  Wager  House,  got  a  doctor  for  him, 
And  then  strolled  back  to  take  his  prisoner's  place 
With  Colonel  Washington  and  the  scared  rest. 
I  know  no  more  than  this  of  Mr.  Brua 
But  he  seems  curiously  American, 
And  I  imagine  him  a  tall,  stooped  man 


A  little  yellow  with  the  Southern  sun, 

With  slow,  brown  eyes  and  a  slow  way  of  talking, 

Shifting  the  quid  of  tobacco  in  his  cheek 

Mechanically,  as  he  lifted  up 

The  dirty,  bloody  body  of  the  man 

Who  stood  for  everything  he  most  detested 

And  slowly  carrying  him  through  casual  wasps 

Of  death  to  the  flyspecked  but  sunny  room 

In  the  old  hotel,  wiping  the  blood  and  grime 

Mechanically  from  his  Sunday  coat, 

Settling  his  black  string-tie  with  big,  tanned  hands, 

And,  then,  incredibly,  going  back  to  jail. 

He  did  not  think  much  about  what  he'd  done 

But  sat  himself  as  comfortably  as  might  be 

On  the  cold  bricks  of  that  dejected  guard-room 

And  slowly  started  cutting  another  quid 

With  a  worn  knife  that  had  a  brown  bone-handle. 

He  lived  all  through  the  war  and  died  long  after, 
This  Mr.  Brua  I  see.  His  last  advice 
To  numerous  nephews  was  "Keep  out  of  trouble, 
But  if  you're  in  it,  chew  and  don't  be  hasty, 
Just  do  whatever's  likeliest  at  hand." 

I  like  your  way  of  talking,  Mr.  Brua, 

And  if  there  still  are  people  interested 

In  cutting  literary  clothes  for  heroes 

They  might  do  worse  than  mention  your  string-tie. 

There  were  other  killings  that  day.  On  the  one  side,  this, 
Leeman,  a  boy  of  eighteen  and  the  youngest  raider, 
Trying  to  flee  from  the  death-trap  of  the  engine-house 
And  caught  and  killed  on  an  islet  in  the  Potomac. 
The  body  lay  on  a  tiny  shelf  of  rock 
For  hours,  a  sack  of  clothes  still  stung  by  bullets. 

On  the  other  side— Fontaine  Beckham,  mayor  of  the  town, 
Went  to  look  at  Heyward's  body  with  Patrick  Higgins. 
The  slow  tears  crept  to  his  eyes.  He  was  getting  old. 
He  had  thought  a  lot  of  Heyward.  He  had  no  gun 
But  he  had  been  mayor  of  the  town  for  a  dozen  years, 
A  peaceful,  orderly  place  full  of  decent  people, 
And  now  they  were  killing  people,  here  in  his  town, 


He  had  to  do  something  to  stop  it,  somehow  or  other. 

He  wandered  out  on  the  railroad,  half-distraught 

And  peeped  from  behind  a  water-tank  at  the  raiders. 

"Squire,  don't  go  any  farther,"  said  Higgins,  "It  ain't  safe." 

He  hardly  heard  him,  he  had  to  look  out  again. 

Who  were  these  devils  with  horns  who  were  shooting  his  people? 

They  didn't  look  like  devils.  One  was  a  boy 

Smooth -cheeked,  with  a  bright  half-dreamy  face,  a  little 

Like  Sally's  eldest. 

Suddenly,  the  air  struck  him 

A  stiff,  breath-taking  blow.  "Oh,"  he  said,  astonished. 
Took  a  step  and  fell  on  his  face,  shot  through  the  heart. 
Higgins  watched  him  for  twenty  minutes,  wanting  to  lift  him 
But  not  quite  daring.  Then  he  turned  away 
And  went  back  to  the  town. 

The  bars  had  been  open  all  day, 
Never  to  better  business. 

When  the  news  of  Beckham's  death  spread  from  bar  to  bar, 
It  was  like  putting  loco-weed  in  the  whiskey, 
The  mob  came  together  at  once,  the  American  mob, 
They  mightn't  be  able  to  take  Brown's  last  little  fort 
But  there  were  two  prisoners  penned  in  the  Wager  House. 
One  was  hurt  already,  Stevens,  no  fun  killing  him. 
But  the  other  was  William  Thompson,  whole  and  unwounded, 
Caught  when  Brown  tried  to  send  his  first  flag  of  truce. 

They  stormed  the  hotel  and  dragged  him  out  to  the  bridge, 
Where  two  men  shot  him,  unarmed,  then  threw  the  body 
Over  the  trestle.  It  splashed  in  the  shallow  water, 
But  the  slayers  kept  on  firing  at  the  dead  face. 
The  carcass  was  there  for  days,  a  riven  target, 
Barbarously  misused. 

Meanwhile  the  armory  yard 
Was  taken  by  a  new  band  of  Beckham's  avengers, 
The  most  of  Brown's  prisoners  freed  and  his  last  escape  cut  off. 

What  need  to  tell  of  the  killing  of  Kagi  the  scholar, 
The  wounding  of  Oliver  Brown  and  the  other  deaths? 
Only  this  remains  to  be  told.  When  the  drunken  day 
Reeled  into  night,  there  were  left  in  the  engine-house 
Five  men,  alive  and  unwounded,  of  all  the  raiders. 
Watson  and  Oliver  Brown 


Both  of  them  hurt  to  the  death,  were  stretched  on  the  floor 
Beside  the  corpse  of  Taylor,  the  young  Canadian. 
There  was  no  light,  there.  It  was  bitterly  cold. 
A  cold  chain  of  lightless  hours  that  slowly  fell 
In  leaden  beads  between  two  fingers  of  stone. 
Outside,  the  fools  and  the  drunkards  yelled  in  the  streets, 
And,  now  and  then,  there  were  shots.  The  prisoners  talked 
And  tried  to  sleep. 

John  Brown  did  not  try  to  sleep, 
The  live  coals  of  his  eyes  severed  the  darkness; 
Now  and  then  he  heard  his  young  son  Oliver  calling 
In  the  thirsty  agony  of  his  wounds,  "Oh,  kill  me! 
Kill  me  and  put  me  out  of  this  suffering!" 
John  Brown's  jaw  tightened.  "If  you  must  die,"  he  said, 
"Die  like  a  man."  Toward  morning  the  crying  ceased. 
John  Brown  called  out  to  the  boy  but  he  did  not  answer. 
"I  guess  he's  dead,"  said  John  Brown. 

If  his  soul  wept 

They  were  the  incredible  tears  of  the  squeezed  stone. 
He  had  not  slept  for  two  days,  but  he  would  not  sleep. 
The  night  was  a  chained,  black  leopard  that  he  stared  down, 
Erect,  on  his  feet.  One  wonders  what  sights  he  saw 
In  the  cloudy  mirror  of  his  most  cloudy  heart, 
Perhaps  God  clothed  in  a  glory,  perhaps  himself 
The  little  boy  who  had  stolen  three  brass  pins 
And  been  well  whipped  for  it. 

When  he  was  six  years  old 
An  Indian  boy  had  given  him  a  great  wonder, 
A  yellow  marble,  the  first  he  had  ever  seen. 
He  treasured  it  for  months  but  lost  it  at  last, 
Boylike.  The  hurt  of  the  loss  took  years  to  heal. 
He  never  quite  forgot. 

He  could  see  it  now, 

Smooth,  hard  and  lovely,  a  yellow,  glistening  ball, 
But  it  kept  rolling  away  through  cracks  of  darkness 
Whenever  he  tried  to  catch  it  and  hold  it  fast. 
If  he  could  only  touch  it,  he  would  be  safe, 
But  it  trickled  away  and  away,  just  out  of  reach, 
There  by  the  wall .  . . 

Outside  the  blackened  East 
Began  to  tarnish  with  a  faint,  grey  stain 
That  caught  on  the  fixed  bayonets  of  the  marines. 


Lee  of  Virginia,  Light  Horse  Harry's  son, 
Observed  it  broaden,  thinking  of  many  things, 
But  chiefly  wanting  to  get  his  business  done, 
A  curious,  wry,  distasteful  piece  of  work 
For  regular  soldiers. 

Therefore  to  be  finished 
As  swiftly  and  summarily  as  possible 
Before  this  yelling  mob  of  drunk  civilians 
And  green  militia  once  got  out  of  hand. 
His  mouth  set.  Once  already  he  had  offered 
The  honor  of  the  attack  to  the  militia, 
Such  honor  as  it  was. 

Their  Colonel  had 

Declined  with  a  bright  nervousness  of  haste. 
"Your  men  are  paid  for  doing  this  kind  of  work. 
Mine  have  their  wives  and  children."  Lee  smiled  briefly, 
Remembering  that.  The  smile  had  a  sharp  edge. 
Well,  it  was  time. 

The  whooping  crowd  fell  silent 
And  scattered,  as  a  single  man  walked  out 
Toward  the  engine-house,  a  letter  in  his  hand. 
Lee  watched  him  musingly.  A  good  man,  Stuart. 
Now  he  was  by  the  door  and  calling  out. 
The  door  opened  a  crack. 

Brown's  eyes  were  there 
Over  the  cold  muzzle  of  a  cocked  carbine. 
The  parleying  began,  went  on  and  on, 
While  the  crowd  shivered  and  Lee  watched  it  all 
With  the  strict  commonsense  of  a  Greek  sword 
And  with  the  same  sure  readiness. 


The  dawn  ran  down  the  valleys  of  the  wind, 
Coral-footed  dove,  tracking  the  sky  with  coral  .  .  . 
Then,  sudden  as  powder  flashing  in  a  pan, 
The  parleying  was  done. 

The  door  slammed  shut. 
The  little  figure  of  Stuart  jumped  aside 
Waving  its  cap. 

And  the«marines  came  on. 

Brown  watched  them  come.  One  hand  was  on  his  carbine. 
The  other  felt  the  pulse  of  his  dying  son. 


"Sell  your  lives  dear,"  he  said.  The  rifle-shots 
Rattled  within  the  bricked-in  engine-room 
Like  firecrackers  set  off  in  a  stone  jug, 
And  there  was  a  harsh  stink  of  sweat  and  powder. 
There  was  a  moment  when  the  door  held  firm. 
Then  it  was  cracked  with  sun. 

Brown  fired  and  missed. 

A  shadow  with  a  sword  leaped  through  the  sun. 
"That's  Ossawattomie,"  said  the  tired  voice 
Of  Colonel  Washington. 

The  shadow  lunged 
And  Brown  fell  to  his  knees. 

The  sword  bent  double, 
A  light  sword,  better  for  parades  than  fighting, 
The  shadow  had  to  take  it  in  both  hands 
And  fairly  rain  his  blows  with  it  on  Brown 
Before  he  sank. 

Now  two  marines  were  down, 
The  rest  rushed  in  over  their  comrades'  bodies, 
Pinning  one  man  of  Brown's  against  the  wall 
With  bayonets,  another  to  the  floor. 

Lee,  on  his  rise  of  ground,  shut  up  his  watch. 
It  had  been  just  a  quarter  of  an  hour 
Since  Stuart  gave  the  signal  for  the  storm, 
And  now  it  was  over. 

All  but  the  long  dying. 

Cud  jo,  the  negro,  watched  from  the  pantry 

The  smooth  glissades  of  the  dancing  gentry, 

His  splay-feet  tapping  in  time  to  the  tune 

While  his  broad  face  beamed  like  a  drunken  moon 

At  candles  weeping  in  crystal  sconces, 

Waxed  floors  glowing  like  polished  bronzes, 

Sparkles  glinting  on  Royal  Worcester 

And  all  the  stir  and  color  and  luster 

Where  Miss  Louisa  and  Miss  Amanda, 

Proud  dolls  scissored  from  silver  paper, 

With  hoopskirts  wide  as  the  front  veranda 

And  the  gypsy  eyes  of  a  caged  frivolity, 

Pointed  their  toes  in  a  satin  caper 

To  the  nonchalant  glory  of  the  Quality. 


And  there  were  the  gentlemen,  one  and  all, 
Friends  and  neighbors  of  Wingate  Hall- 
Old  Judge  Brooke  from  Little  Vermilion 
With  the  rusty  voice  of  a  cracked  horse-pistol 
And  manners  as  stiff  as  a  French  cotillion. 
Huger  Shepley  and  Wainscott  Bristol, 
Hawky  arrogant  sons  of  anger 
Who  rode  like  devils  and  fought  like  cocks 
And  watched,  with  an  ineffable  languor 
Their  spoilt  youth  tarnish  a  dicing-box. 
The  Cazenove  boys  and  the  Cotter  brothers, 
Pepperalls  from  Pepperall  Ride. 
Cummings  and  Growls  and  a  dozen  others, 
Every  one  with  a  name  and  a  pride. 
Sallow  young  dandies  Jn  shirts  with  ruffles, 
Each  could  dance  like  a  blowing  feather, 
And  each  had  the  voice  that  Georgia  muffles 
In  the -lazy  honey  of  her  May  weather. 

Cud  jo  watched  and  measured  and  knew  them, 
Seeing  behind  and  around  and  through  them 
With  the  shrewd,  dispassionate,  smiling  eye 
Of  the  old-time  servant  in  days  gone  by. 
He  couldn't  read  and  he  couldn't  write, 
But  he  knew  Quality,  black  or  white, 
And  even  his  master  could  not  find 
The  secret  place  in  the  back  of  his  mind 
Where  witch-bones  talked  to  a  scarlet  rag 
And  a  child's  voice  spoke  from  a  conjur-bag. 
For  he  belonged  to  the  hidden  nation, 
The  mute,  enormous  confederation 
Of  the  planted  earth  and  the  burden  borne 
And  the  horse  that  is  ridden  and  given  corn. 
The  wind  from  the  brier-patch  brought  him  news 
That  never  went  walking  in  white  men's  shoes 
And  the  grapevine  whispered  its  message  faster 
Than  a  horse  could  gallop  across  a  grave, 
Till,  long  ere  the  letter  could  tell  the  master, 
The  doomsday  rabbits  had  told  the  slave. 

He  was  faithful  as  bread  or  salt, 
A  flawless  servant  without  a  fault, 

Major-domo  of  Wingate  Hall, 

Proud  of  his  white  folks,  proud  of  it  all. 

They  might  scold  him,  they  might  let  him  scold  them, 

And  he  might  know  things  that  he  never  told  them, 

But  there  was  a  bond,  and  the  bond  would  hold, 

On  either  side  until  both  were  cold. 

So  he  didn't  judge,  though  he  knew,  he  knew, 

How  the  yellow  babies  down  by  the  Slough, 

Had  a  fourth  of  their  blood  from  old  Judge  Brooke, 

And  where  Sue  Growl  got  her  Wingate  look, 

And  the  whole,  mad  business  of  Shepley's  Wager, 

And  why  Miss  Harriet  married  the  Major. 

And  he  could  trace  with  unerring  ease 

A  hundred  devious  pedigrees 

Of  man  and  horse,  from  the  Squire's  Rapscallion 

Back  to  the  stock  of  the  Arab  stallion, 

And  the  Bristol  line  through  its  baffling  dozens 

Of  doubly-removed  half-second-cousins, 

And  found  a  creed  and  a  whole  theology 

On  the  accidents  of  human  geology. 

He  looked  for  Clay  in  the  dancing  whirl, 

There  he  was,  coming  down  the  line, 

Hand  in  hand  with  a  dark,  slim  girl 

Whose  dress  was  the  color  of  light  in  wine 

Sally  Dupre  from  Appleton 

Wliere  the  blackshawled  ladies  rock  in  the  sun 

And  young  things  labor  and  old  things  rule, 

A  proud  girl,  taught  in  a  humbling  school 

That  the  only  daughters  of  misalliance 

Must  harden  their  hearts  against  defiance 

Of  all  the  uncles  and  all  the  aunts 

Who  succour  such  offspring  of  mischance 

And  wash  them  clean  from  each  sinful  intention 

With  the  kindliest  sort  of  incomprehension. 

She  had  the  Appleton  mouth,  it  seemed, 

And  the  Appleton  way  of  riding, 

But  when  she  sorrowed  and  if  she  dreamed, 

Something  came  out  from  hiding. 

She  could  sew  all  day  on  an  Appleton  ht>™ 


And  look  like  a  saint  in  plaster, 

But  when  the  fiddles  began  to  play 

And  her  feet  beat  fast  but  her  heart  beat  faster 

An  alien  grace  inhabited  them 

And  she  looked  like  her  father,  the  dancing-master, 

The  scapegrace  elegant,  "French"  Dupre, 

Come  to  the  South  on  a  luckless  day, 

With  bright  paste  buckles  sewn  on  his  pumps. 

A  habit  of  holding  the  ace  of  trumps, 

And  a  manner  of  kissing  a  lady's  hand 

Which  the  county  failed  to  understand. 

He  stole  Sue  Appleton's  heart  away 

With  eyes  that  were  neither  black  nor  grey, 

And  broke  the  heart  of  the  Brookes'  best  mare 

To  marry  her  safely  with  time  to  spare 

While  the  horsewhip  uncles  toiled  behind— 

He  knew  his  need  and  she  knew  her  mind. 

And  the  love  they  had  was  as  bright  and  brief 

As  the  dance  of  the  gilded  maple-leaf, 

Till  she  died  in  Charleston  of  childbed  fever 

Before  her  looks  or  his  heart  could  leave  her. 

It  took  the  flavor  out  of  his  drinking 

And  left  him  thoughts  he  didn't  like  thinking, 

So  he  wrapped  his  child  in  the  dead  girl's  shawl 

'And  sent  her  politely  to  Uncle  Paul 

With  a  black-edged  note  full  of  grief  and  scruples 

And  half  the  money  he  owed  his  pupils, 

Saw  that  Sue  had  the  finest  hearse 

That  I.  O.  U.'s  could  possibly  drape  her 

And  elegized  her  in  vile  French  verse 

While  his  hot  tears  spotted  the  borrowed  paper. 

He  still  had  manners,  he  tried  to  recover, 
But  something  went  when  he  buried  his  lover. 
No  women  with  "feyes  could  ever  scold  him 
But  he  would  make  places  too  hot  to  hold  him, 
He  shrugged  his  shoulders  and  kept  descending- 
Life  was  a  farce,  but  it  needed  ending. 
The  tag-line  found  him  too  tired  to  dread  it 
And  he  died  as  he  lived,  with  an  air,  on  credit, 
In  his  host's  best  shirt  and  a  Richmond  garret, 
Talking  to  shadows  and  drinking  claret. 


He  passed  when  Sally  was  barely  four 

And  the  Appleton  kindred  breathed  once  more 

And,  with  some  fervor,  began  to  try 

To  bury  the  bone  of  his  memory 

And  strictly  expunge  from  his  daughter's  semblance 

All  possible  traces  of  a  resemblance. 

Which  system  succeeded,  to  outward  view, 

As  well  as  most  of  such  systems  do 

And  resulted  in  mixing  a  martyr's  potions 

For  "French"  Dupre  in  his  daughter's  notions. 

And  slander  is  sinful  and  gossip  wrong, 
But  country  memories  are  long, 
The  Appleton  clan  is  a  worthy  clan 
But  we  remember  the  dancing-man. 
The  girl  is  pretty,  the  girl  seems  wise, 
The  girl  was  born  with  her  father's  eyes. 
She  will  play  with  our  daughters  and  know  our  sons, 
We  cannot  offend  the  Appletons. 
Bristols  and  Wingates,  Shepleys  and  Growls, 
We  wouldn't  hurt  her  to  save  our  souls. 
But  after  all— and  nevertheless— 
For  one  has  to  think— and  one  must  confess— 
And  one  should  admit— but  one  never  knows— 
So  it  has  gone,  and  so  it  goes, 

Through  the  sun  and  the  wind  and  the  rainy  weather 
Whenever  ladies  are  gathered  together, 
Till,  little  by  little  and  stitch  by  stitch, 
The  girl  is  put  in  her  proper  niche 
With  all  the  virtues  that  we  can  draw 
For  someone  else's  daughter-in-law, 
A  girl  to  be  kind  to,  a  girl  we're  lucky  in, 
A  girl  to  marry  some  nice  Kentuckian, 
Some  Alabaman,  some  Carolinian— 
In  fact,  if  you  ask  me  for  my  opinion, 
There  are  lots  of  boys  in  the  Northern  sections 
And  some  of  them  have  quite  good  connections- 
She  looks  charming  this  evening,  doesn't  she? 
If  she  danced  just  a  little  less  dashingly! 

Cud  jo  watched  her  as  she  went  by, 

"She's  got  a  light  foot,"  thought  Cudjo,  "Hi! 


A  light,  swif  foot  and  a  talkin'  eye! 

But  you'll  need  more'n  dat,  Miss  Sally  Dupre 

Before  you  proposals  with  young  Marse  Clay. 

And  as  soon  as  de  fiddles  finish  slewin' 

Dey's  sixteen  things  I  ought  to  be  doin'. 

The  Major's  sure  to  be  wan  tin'  his  dram, 

We'll  have  to  be  cuttin'  a  second  ham, 

And  dat  trashy  high-yaller,  Parker's  Guinea, 

Was  sayin'  some  Yankee  name  Old  John  Brown 

Has  raised  de  Debil  back  in  Virginny 

And  freed  de  niggers  all  over  town, 

He's  friends  with  de  ha'nts  and  steel  won't  touch  him 

But  the  paterollers  is  sure  to  cotch  him. 

How  come  he  want  to  kick  up  such  a  dizziness! 

Nigger-business  ain't  white-folks'  business." 

There  was  no  real  moon  in  all  the  soft,  clouded  night, 
The  rats  of  night  had  eaten  the  silver  cheese, 
Though  here  and  there  a  forgotten  crumb  of  old  brightness 
Gleamed  and  was  blotted. 

But  there  was  no  real  moon, 
No  bowl  of  nacre,  dripping  an  old  delusive 
Stain  on  the  changed,  strange  grass,  making  faces  strange; 
There  was  only  a  taste  of  warm  rain  not  yet  fallen, 
A  wine-colored  dress,  turned  black  because  of  no  moon, 
—It  would  have  been  spangled  in  moon—and  a  broadcloth  coat, 
And  two  voices  talking  together,  quite  softly,  quite  calmly. 
The  dance.  Such  a  lovely  dance.  But  you  dance  so  lightly. 
Amanda  dances  so  well.  But  you  dance  so  lightly. 
Louisa  looks  so  pretty  in  pink,  don't  you  think? 
Are  you  fond  of  Scott?  Yes,  I'm  very  fond  of  Scott. 
Elegant  extracts  from  gilt-edged  volumes  called  Keepsakes 
And  Godey's  Lady's  Book  words. 

If  I  were  a  girl, 

A  girl  in  a  Godey's  Lady's  Book  steel-engraving, 
I  would  have  no  body  or  legs,  no  aches  or  delusions. 
I  would  know  what  to  do.  I  would  marry  a  man  called  Mister. 
We  would  live  in  a  steel-engraving,  in  various  costumes 
Designed  in  the  more  respectable  Paris  modes, 
With  two  little  boys  in  little  plush  hats  like  muffins, 


And  two  little  girls  with  pantalettes  to  their  chins. 
I  must  do  that,  1  think. 

But  now  my  light  feet  know 

That  they  will  be  tired  and  burning  with  all  my  dancing 
Before  I  cool  them  in  the  exquisite  coolness 
Of  water  or  the  cool  virginal  sheets  of  virgins, 
And  a  face  comes  swimming  toward  me  out  of  black  broadcloth 
And  my  heart  knocks. 

Who  are  you,  why  are  you  here? 
Why  should  you  trouble  my  eyes? 

No,  Mr.  Wingate, 

I  cannot  agree  with  you  on  the  beauties  of  Byron. 
But  why  should  something  melt  in  the  stuff  of  my  hand, 
And  my  voice  sound  thin  in  my  ears? 

This  face  is  a  face 

Like  any  other  face.  Did  my  mother  once 
Hear  thin  blood  sing  in  her  ears  at  a  voice  called  Mister? 
And  wish  for— and  not  wish  for— and  when  the  strange  thing 
Was  consummate,  then,  and  she  lay  in  a  coil  of  darkness, 
Did  she  feel  so  much  changed?  What  is  it  to  be 
A  woman? 

No,  I  must  live  in  a  steel-engraving. 

His  voice  said.  But  there  was  other  than  his  voice. 
Something  that  heard  warm  rain  on  unopened  flowers 
And  spoke  or  tried  to  speak  across  swimming  blackness 
To  the  slight  profile  and  the  wine-colored  dress. 
Her  hair  was  black.  Her  eyes  might  be  black  or  grey. 
He  could  not  remember,  it  irked  him  not  to  remember. 
But  she  was  just  Sally  Dupre  from  Appleton 
Only  she  was  not.  Only  she  was  a  shadow 
And  a  white  face— a  terrible,  white  shut  face 
That  looked  through  windows  of  inflexible  glass 
Disdainfully  upon  the  beauties  of  Byron 
And  every  puppy  that  ever  howled  for  the  moon 
To  brush  warm  raindrops  across  the  unopened  flower 
And  so  quiet  the  heart  with— what? 

But  you  speak  to  her  aunts. 

You  are  Wingate  of  Wingate  Hall.  You  are  not  caught 
Like  a  bee  drunk  with  the  smell  of  honey,  the  smell  of  sleep, 
In  a  slight  flower  of  glass  whose  every  petal 
Shows  ey€s  one  cannot  remember  as  black  or  grey. 


You  converse  easily  on  elegant  subjects 
Suitable  for  young  ladies. 
,  You  do  not  feel 

The  inexorable  stairs  of  the  flesh  ascended 
•By  an  armed  enemy  with  a  naked  torch. 
.This  has  been  felt  before,  this  has  been  quenched 
With  fitting  casualness  in  flesh  that  has 
A  secret  stain  of  the  sun. 

It  is  not  a  subject 
Suitable  for  the  converse  of  young  ladies. 

"My  God,  My  God,  why  will  she  not  answer  the  aching? 
My  God,  My  God,  to  He  at  her  side  through  the  darkness!" 

And  yet—is  it  real—  do  I  really— 

The  wine-colored  dress 
Rose.  Broadcloth  rose  and  took  her  back  to  the  dance. 

The  nickeled  lamp  threw  a  wide  yellow  disk 
On  the  red  tablecloth  with  the  tasseled  fringes. 
Jack  Ellyat  put  his  book  down  with  a  slight 
Impatient  gesture. 

There  was  mother,  knitting 
The  same  grey  end  of  scarf  while  Father  read 
The  same  unajtered  paper  through  the  same 
Old-fashioned  spectacles  with  the  worn  bows. 

Jane  with  one  apple-cheek  and  one  enshadowed, 
Soundlessly  conjugated  Latin  verbs, 
"Amo,  amas,  amat,"  through  sober  lips, 
"Amamus,  amatis,  amant,"  and  still  no  sound. 
He  glanced  at  the  clock.  On  top  of  it  was  Phaeton 
Driving  bronze,  snarling  horses  down  the  sharp, 
Quicksilver,  void,  careening  gulfs  of  air. 
Until  they  smashed  upon  a  black-marble  sea. 
The  round  spiked  trophy  of  the  brazen  sun 
Weighed  down  his  chariot  with  its  heavy  load 
Of  ponderous  fire. 

To  be  like  Phaeton 
And  drive  the  trophy-sun! 

But  he  and  his  horses 


Were  frozen  in  their  attitude  of  snarling, 

Frozen  forever  to  the  tick  of  a  clock. 

Not  all  the  broomstick  witches  of  New  England 

Could  break  that  congealed  motion  and  cast  down 

The  huge  sun  thundering  on  the  black  marble 

Of  the  mantelpiece,  streaked  with  white  veins  of  foam. 

If  once  such  things  could  happen,  all  could  happen, 

The  snug,  safe  world  crack  up  like  broken  candy 

And  the  young  rivers,  roaring,  rush  to  the  sea; 

White  bulls  that  caught  the  morning  on  their  horns 

And  shook  the  secure  earth  until  they  found 

Some  better  recompense  for  life  than  life, 
The  untamed  ghost,  the  undiminished  star. 

But  it  would  not  happen.  Nothing  would  ever  happen. 
He  had  been  here,  like  this,  ten  thousand  times, 
He  would  be  here,  like  this,  ten  thousand  more, 
Until  at  last  the  little  ticks  of  the  clock 
Had  cooled  what  had  been  hot,  and  changed  the  thin, 
Blue,  forking  veins  across  the  back  of  his  hand 
Into  the  big,  soft  veins  on  Father's  hand. 
And  the  world  would  be  snug. 

And  he  would  sit 

Reading  the  same  newspaper,  after  dinner, 
Through  spectacles  whose  bows  were  getting  worn 
While  a  wife  knitted  on  an  endless  scarf 
And  a  child  slowly  formed  with  quiet  lips 
"Amo,  amas,  amat,"  and  still  no  sound. 
And  it  would  be  over.  Over  without  having  been. 

His  father  turned  a  creaking  page  of  paper 

And  cleared  his  throat.  "The  Tribune  calls,"  he  said, 

"Brown's  raid  the  work  of  a  madman.  Well,  they're  right, 


Mrs.  Ellyat  put  her  knitting  down. 
"Are  they  going  to  hang  him,  Will?" 

"It  looks  that  way." 
"But,  Father,  when-" 

"They  have  the  right,  my  son, 
He  broke  the  law." 

"But,  Will!  You  don't  believe-" 


A  little  spark  lit  Mr.  EHyat's  eyes. 
"I  didn't  say  1  thought  that  he  was  wrong. 
I  said  they  had  the  right  to  hang  the  man, 
But  they'll  hang  slavery  with  him." 

A  quick  pulse 

Beat  in  Jack  Ellyat's  wrist.  Behind  his  eyes 
A  bearded  puppet  creaked  upon  a  rope 
And  the  sky  darkened  because  he  was  there. 
Now  it  was  Mother  talking  in  a  strange 
Iron-bound  voice  he'd  never  heard  before. 
"I  prayed  for  him  in  church  last  Sunday,  Will. 
I  pray  for  him  at  home  here  every  night. 
I  don't  know— I  don't  care— what  laws  he  broke. 
I  know  that  he  was  right.  I  pray  to  God 
To  show  the  world  somehow  that  he  was  right 
And  break  these  Southern  people  into  knowing! 
And  1  know  this-in  every  house  and  church, 
All  through  the  North-women  are  praying  for  him, 
Praying  for  him.  And  God  will  hear  those  prayers." 

"He  will,  my  dear/'  said  Mr.  Ellyat  gently, 
"But  what  will  be  His  answer?" 

He  took  her  hand, 

Smoothing  it  for  a  moment.  Then  she  sighed 
And  turned  back  to  the  interminable  scarf. 
Jack  Ellyat's  pulse  beat  faster. 

Women  praying, 

Praying  at  night,  in  every  house  in  the  North, 
Praying  for  old  John  Brown  until  their  knees 
Ached  with  stiff  cold. 

Innumerable  prayers 
Inexorably  rising,  till  the  dark 
Vault  of  the  midnight  was  so  thronged  and  packed 
The  wild  geese  could  not  arrow  through  the  storm 
Of  terrible,  ascendant,  women's  prayers.  .  .  . 

The  clock  struck  nine,  and  Phaeton  still  stood 
Frozcnly  urging  on  his  frozen  horses, 
But,  for  a  moment,  to  Jack  Ellyat's  eyes, 
The  congealed  hoofs  had  seemed  to  paw  the  air 
And  the  bronze  car  roll  forward. 


On  Saturday,  in  Southern  market  towns, 
When  I  was  a  boy  with  twenty  cents  to  spend, 
The  carts  began  to  drift  in  with  the  morning, 
And,  by  the  afternoon,  the  slipshod  Square 
And  all  broad  Center  Street  were  lined  with  them; 
Moth-eaten  mules  that  whickered  at  each  other 
Between  the  mended  shafts  of  rattletrap  wagons, 
Mud-spattered  buggies,  mouldy  phaetons, 
And,  here  and  there,  an  ox-cart  from  the  hills 
Whose  solemn  team  had  shoulders  of  rough,  white  rock, 
*  Innocent  noses,  black  and  wet  as  snailshells, 
And  that  inordinate  patience  in  their  eyes. 

There  always  was  a  Courthouse  in  the  Square, 

A  cupolaed  Courthouse,  drowsing  Time  away 

Behind  the  grey-white  pillars  of  its  porch 

Like  an  old  sleepy  judge  in  a  spotted  gown; 

And,  dowrn  the  Square,  always  a  languid  jail 

Of  worn,  uneven  brick  with  moss  in  the  cracks 

Or  stone  weathered  the  grey  of  weathered  pine. 

The  plump  jail-master  wore  a  linen  duster 

In  summer,  and  you  used  to  see  him  sit 

Tilted  against  the  wall  in  a  pine-chair, 

Spitting  reflectively  in  the  warm  dust 

While  endless  afternoons  slowly  dissolved 

Into  the  longer  shadow,  the  dust-blue  twilight. 

Higgledy-piggledy  days— days  that  are  gone— 

The  trotters  are  dead,  all  the  yellow-painted  sulkies 

Broken  for  firewood— the  old  Courthouse  grins 

Through  new  false-teeth  of  Alabama  limestone— 

The  haircloth  lap-robe  weeps  on  a  Ford  radiator— 

But  I  have  seen  the  old  Courthouse.  I  have  seen 

The  flyspeckcd  windows  and  the  faded  flag 

Over  the  judge's  chair,  touched  the  scuffed  walls, 

Spat  in  the  monumental  brass  spittoons 

And  smelt  the  smell  that  never  could  be  aired, 

Although  one  opened  windows  for  a  year, 

The  unforgettable,  intangible 

Mixture  of  cheap  cigars,  worm-eaten  books, 

Sweat,  poverty,  negro  hair-oil,  grief  and  law. 

I  have  seen  the  long  room  packed  with  quiet  men, 


Fit  to  turn  mob,  if  need  were,  in  a  flash— 

Cocked-pistol  men,  so  lazily  attentive 

Their  easy  languor  knocked  against  your  ribs 

As,  hour  by  hour,  the  lawyers  droned  along, 

And  minute  on  creeping  minute,  your  cold  necknape 

Waited  the  bursting  of  the  firecracker, 

The  flare  of  fury. 

And  yet,  that  composed  fury 
Burnt  itself  out,  unflaring— was  held  down 
By  a  dry,  droning  voice,  a  faded  flag. 
The  kettle  never  boiled,  the  pistol  stayed 
At  cock  but  the  snake-head  hammer  never  fell.  .  .  . 
The  little  boys  climbed  down  beyond  the  windows.  .  .  . 

So,  in  the  cupolaed  Courthouse  there  in  Charlestown, 
When  the  jail-guards  had  carried  in  the  cot 
Where  Brown  lay  like  a  hawk  with  a  broken  back, 
I  hear  the  rustle  of  the  moving  crowd, 
The  buzz  outside,  taste  the  dull,  heavy  air, 
Smell  the  stale  smell  and  see  the  country  carts 
Hitched  in  the  streets. 

For  a  long,  dragging  week 
Of  market-Saturdays  the  trial  went  on. 
The  droning  voices  rise  and  fall  and  rise. 
Stevens  lies  quiet  on  his  mattress,  breathing 
The  harsh  and  difficult  breath  of  a  dying  man, 
Although  not  dying  then. 

Beyond  the  Square 

The  trees  are  dry,  but  all  the  dry  leaves  not  fallen- 
Yellow  leaves  falling  through  a  grey-blue  dusk, 
The  first  winds  of  November  whirl  and  scatter  them.  .  .  . 

Read  as  you  will  in  any  of  the  books, 

The  details  of  the  thing,  the  questions  and  answers, 

How  sometimes  Brown  would  walk,  sometimes  was  carried, 

At  first  would  hardly  plead,  half-refused  counsel, 

Accepted  later,  made  up  witness-lists, 

Grew  fitfully  absorbed  in  his  defense, 

Only  to  flare  in  temper  at  his  first  lawyers 

And  drive  them  from  the  case. 

Questions  and  answers, 
Wheels  creaking  in  a  void. 

Sometimes  he  lay 

Quiet  upon  his  cot,  the  hawk-eyes  staring. 
Sometimes  his  fingers  moved  mechanically 
As  if  at  their  old  task  of  sorting  wool, 
Fingertips  that  could  tell  him  in  the  dark 
Whether  the  wool  they  touched  was  from  Ohio 
Or  from  Vermont.  They  had  the  shepherd's  gift. 
It  was  his  one  sure  talent. 

Questions  creaking 
Uselessly  back  and  forth. 

No  one  can  say 

That  the  trial  was  not  fair.  The  trial  was  fair, 
Painfully  fair  by  every  rule  of  law, 
And  that  it  was  made  not  the  slightest  difference. 
The  law's  our  yardstick,  and  it  measures  well 
Or  well  enough  when  there  are  yards  to  measure. 
Measure  a  wave  with  it,  measure  a  fire, 
Cut  sorrow  up  in  inches,  weigh  content. 
You  can  weigh  John  Brown's  body  well  enough, 
But  how  and  in  what  balance  weigh  John  Brown? 

He  had  the  shepherd's  gift,  but  that  was  all. 

He  had  no  other  single  gift  for  life. 

Some  men  are  pasture  Death  turns  back  to  pasture, 

Some  are  fire-opals  on  that  iron  wrist, 

Some  the  deep  roots  of  wisdoms  not  yet  born. 

John  Brown  was  none  of  these, 

He  was  a  stone, 

A  stone  eroded  to  a  cutting  edge 

By  obstinacy,  failure  and  cold  prayers. 

Discredited  farmer,  dubiously  involved 

In  lawsuit  after  lawsuit,  Shubel  Morgan 

Fantastic  bandit  of  the  Kansas  border, 

Red-handed  murderer  at  Pottawattomie, 

Cloudy  apostle,  whooped  along  to  death 

By  those  who  do  no  violence  themselves 

But  only  buy  the  guns  to  have  it  done, 

Sincere  of  course,  as  all  fanatics  are, 

And  with  a  certain  minor-prophet  air, 

That  fooled  the  world  to  thinking  him  half-great 

When  all  he  did  consistently  was  fail. 


So  far  one  advocate. 

But  there  is  this. 

Sometimes  there  comes  a  crack  in  Time  itself. 
Sometimes  the  earth  is  torn  by  something  blind. 
Sometimes  an  image  that  has  stood  so  long 
It  seems  implanted  as  the  polar  star 
Is  moved  against  an  unfathonied  force 
That  suddenly  will  not  have  it  any  more. 
Call  it  the  mores,  call  it  God  or  Fate, 
Call  it  Mansoul  or  economic  law, 
That  force  exists  and  moves. 

And  when  it  moves 
It  will  employ  a  hard  and  actual  stone 
To  batter  into  bits  an  actual  wall 
And  change  the  actual  scheme  of  things. 

John  Brown 

Was  such  a  stone— unreasoning  as  the  stone, 
Destructive  as  the  stone,  and,  if  you  like, 
Heroic  and  devoted  as  such  a  stone. 
He  had  no  gift  for  life,  no  gift  to  bring 
Life  but  his  body  and  a  cutting  edge, 
But  he  knew  how  to  die. 

And  yardstick  law 

Gave  him  six  weeks  to  burn  that  hoarded  knowledge 
In  one  swift  fire  whose  sparks  fell  like  live  coals 
On  every  State  in  the  Union. 

Listen  now, 

Listen,  the  bearded  lips  are  speaking  now, 
There  are  no  more  guerilla-raids  to  plan, 
There  are  no  more  hard  questions  to  be  solved 
Of  right  and  wrong,  no  need  to  beg  for  peace, 
Here  is  the  peace  unbegged,  here  is  the  end, 
Here  is  the  insolence  of  the  sun  cast  off, 
Here  is  the  voice  already  fixed  with  night. 


I  have,  may  it  please  the  Court,  a  few  words  to  say. 
In  the  first  place  I  deny  everything  but  wrhat  I  have  all  along 
admitted:  of  a  design  on  my  part  to  free  slaves.  .  .  . 
Had  I  interfered  in  the  matter  which  I  admit,  and  which  I 

admit  has  been  fairly  proved  .  .  .  had  I  so  interfered  in  behalf 
of  the  rich,  the  powerful,  the  intelligent,  or  the  so-called  great 
c  .  .  and  suffered  and  sacrificed,  what  I  have  in  this  interfer- 
ence, it  would  have  been  all  right.  Every  man  in  this  Court 
would  have  deemed  it  an  act  worthy  of  reward  rather  than 

I  see  a  book  kissed  wrhich  I  suppose  to  be  the  Bible,  or  at  least 
the  New  Testament,  which  teaches  me  that  all  things  whatso- 
ever I  would  that  men  should  do  unto  me,  I  should  do  even  so 
to  them.  It  teaches  me  further  to  remember  them  that  are  in 
bonds  as  bound  with  them.  I  endeavored  to  act  up  to  that  in- 
struction. I  say  I  am  yet  too  young  to  understand  that  God  is  any 
respecter  of  persons.  I  believe  that  to  have  interfered  as  I  have 
done,  as  I  have  always  freely  admitted  I  have  done  in  behalf  of 
His  despised  poor,  I  did  no  wrong,  but  right.  Now,  if  it  is  deemed 
necessary  that  I  should  forfeit  my  life  for  the  furtherance 
of  the  ends  of  justice  and  mingle  my  blood  further  with  the  blood 
of  my  children  and  with  the  blood  of  millions  in  this  slave 
country  whose  rights  are  disregarded  by  wicked,  cruel  and  unjust 
enactments,  I  say,  let  it  be  done. 

Let  me  say  one  word  further.  I  feel  entirely  satisfied  with  the 
treatment  I  have  received  on  my  trial.  Considering  all  the  cir- 
cumstances, it  has  been  more  generous  than  I  expected.  But  I 
feel  no  consciousness  of  guilt.  I  have  stated  from  the  first  what 
was  my  intention  and  what  was  not.  I  never  had  any  design 
against  the  liberty  of  any  person,  nor  any  disposition  to  commit 
treason  or  incite  slaves  to  rebel  or  make  any  general  insurrec- 
tion. I  never  encouraged  any  man  to  do  so  but  always  discour- 
aged any  idea  of  that  kind. 

Let  me  say  also,  in  regard  to  the  statements  made  by  some 
of  those  connected  with  me,  I  hear  it  has  been  stated  by  some 
of  them  that  I  have  induced  them  to  join  with  me.  But  the  con- 
trary is  true.  I  do  not  say  this  to  injure  them,  but  as  regretting 
their  weakness.  Not  one  but  joined  me  of  his  own  accord,  and 
the  greater  part  at  their  own  expense.  A  number  of  them  I 
never  saw,  and  never  had  a  word  of  conversation  with,  till  the 
day  they  came  to  me,  and  that  was  for  the  purpose  I  have  stated. 

Now  I  have  done. 

The  voice  ceased.  There  was  a  deep,  brief  pause. 
The  judge  pronounced  the  formal  words  of  death. 


One  man,  a  stranger,  tried  to  clap  his  hands. 
The  foolish  sound  was  stopped. 
There  was  nothing  but  silence  then. 

No  cries  in  the  court, 

No  roar,  no  slightest  murmur  from  the  thronged  street, 
As  Brown  went  back  to  jail  between  his  guards. 
The  heavy  door  shut  behind  them. 

There  was  a  noise  of  chairs  scraped  back  in  the  court-room 
And  that  huge  sigh  of  a  crowd  turning  back  into  men. 

A  month  between  the  sentence  and  the  hanging. 
A  month  of  endless  visitors,  endless  letters. 
A  Mrs.  Russell  came  to  clean  his  coat. 
A  sculptor  sketched  him. 

In  the  anxious  North, 
The  anxious  Dr.  Howe  most  anxiously 
Denied  all  godly  connection  with  the  raid, 
And  Gerrit  Smith  conveniently  went  mad 
For  long  enough  to  sponge  his  mind  of  all 
Memory  of  such  an  unsuccessful  deed. 
Only  the  tough,  swart-minded  Higginson 
Kept  a  grim  decency,  would  not  deny. 
Pity  the  portly  men,  pity  the  pious, 
Pity  the  fool  who  lights  the  powder-mine, 
They  need  your  counterfeit  penny,  they  will  live  long. 

In  Charlestown  meanwhile,  there  were  whispers  of  rescuef 

Brown  told  them, 

"I  am  worth  now  infinitely  more  to  die  than  to  live." 

And  lived  his  month  so,  busily. 

A  month  of  trifles  building  up  a  legend 

And  letters  in  a  pinched,  firm  handwriting 

Courageous,  scriptural,  misspelt  and  terse, 

Sowing  a  fable  every  where*  they  fell 

While  the  town  filled  with  troops. 

The  Governor  came, 
Enemies,  friends,  militia-cavaliers, 
Old  Border  Foes. 

The  month  ebbed  into  days, 
The  wife  and  husband  met  for  the  last  time, 
The  last  letter  was  written: 


"To  be  inscribed  on  the  old  family  Monument  at  North  Elba, 
Oliver  Brown  born  1839  was  killed  at  Harpers  Ferry,  Va.  Nov. 

iyth  1859 
Watson  Brown  born  1835  was  wounded  at  Harpers  Ferry  Nov. 

ijth  and  died  Nov.  i9th  1859 
(My  Wife  can)  supply  blank  dates  to  above 
John  Brown  born  Alay  9th  1800  was  executed  at  Charlestown 

Va.  December  znd  1859." 

At  last  the  clear  warm  day,  so  slow  to  come. 

The  North  that  had  already  now  begun 
To  mold  his  body  into  crucified  Christ's, 
Hung  fables  about  those  hours— saw  him  move 
Symbolically,  kiss  a  negro  child, 
Do  this  and  that,  say  things  he  never  said, 
To  swell  the  sparse,  hard  outlines  of  the  event 
With  sentimental  omen. 

It  was  not  so. 

He  stood  on  the  jail -porch  in  carpet-slippers, 
Clad  in  a  loose  ill-iitting  suit  of  black, 
Tired  farmer  waiting  for  his  team  to  come. 
He  left  one  last  written  message: 

"I,  John  Brown,  am  now  quite  certain  that  the  crimes  of  this 
guilty  land:  will  never  be  purged  away:  but  with  Blood.  I  had 
as  I  now  think:  vainly  flattered  myself  that  without  very  much 
bloodshed;  it  might  be  done." 

They  did  not  hang  him  in  the  jail  or  the  Square. 
The  two  white  horses  dragged  the  rattling  cart 
Out  of  the  town.  Brown  sat  upon  his  coffin. 
Beyond  the  soldiers  lay  the  open  fields 
Earth-colored,  sleepy  with  unfallen  frost. 
The  farmer's  eye  took  in  the  bountiful  land. 
"This  is  a  beautiful  country,"  said  John  Brown. 

The  gallows-stairs  were  climbed,  the  death-cap  fitted. 

Behind  the  gallows, 

Before  a  line  of  red-and-grey  cadets, 

A  certain  odd  Professor  T.  J.  Jackson 

Watched  disapprovingly  the  ragged  militia 


Deploy  for  twelve  long  minutes  ere  they  reached 

Their  destined  places. 

The  Presbyterian  sabre  of  his  soul 

Was  moved  by  a  fey  breath. 

He  saw  John  Brown, 
A  tiny  blackened  scrap  of  paper-soul 
Fluttering  above  the  Pit  that  Calvin  barred 
With  bolts  of  iron  on  the  unelect; 
He  heard  the  just,  implacable  Voice  speak  out 
"Depart  ye  wicked  to  eternal  fire." 
And  sternly  prayed  that  God  might  yet  be  moved 
To  save  the  predestined  cinder  from  the  flame. 

Brown  did  not  hear  the  prayer.  The  rough  black  cloth 

Of  the  death-cap  hid  his  eyes  now.  He  had  seen 

The  Blue  Ridge  Mountains  couched  in  their  blue  haze. 

Perhaps  he  saw  them  still,  behind  his  eyes— 

Perhaps  just  cloth,  perhaps  nothing  any  more. 

"/  shall  look  unto  the  hills  from  whence  cometh  my  help" 

The  hatchet  cut  the  cord.  The  greased  trap  fell. 
Colonel  Preston: 

"So  perish  all  such  enemies  of  Virginia, 
All  such  enemies  of  the  Union, 
All  such  foes  of  the  human  race." 

John  Brown's  body  lies  a-mouldering  in  the  grave. 

He  will  not  come  again  with  foolish  pikes 

And  a  pack  of  desperate  boys  to  shadow  the  sun. 

He  has  gone  back  North.  The  slaves  have  forgotten  his  eyes. 

John  Brown's  body  lies  a-mouldering  in  the  grave. 

John  Brown's  body  lies  a-mouldering  in  the  grave. 

Already  the  corpse  is  changed,  un'der  the  stone, 

The  strong  flesh  rotten,  the  bones  dropping  away. 

Cotton  will  grow  next  year,  in  spite  of  the  skull. 

Slaves  will  be  slaves  next  year,  in  spite  of  the  bones. 

Nothing  is  changed,  John  Brown,  nothing  is  changed. 

"There  is  a  song  in  my  bones.  There  is  a  song 
In  my  white  bones" 


I  hear  no  song.  I  hear 
Only  the  blunt  seeds  growing  secretly 
f  In  the  dark  entrails  of  the  preparate  earth, 
The  rustle  of  the  cricket  under  the  leaf, 
The  creaking  of  the  cold  wheel  of  the  stars. 

"Bind  my  white  bones  together— hollow  them 
To  skeleton  pipes  of  music.  When  the  wind 
Blows  from  the  budded  Spring,  the  song  will  blow" 

I  hear  no  song.  I  only  hear  the  roar 
Of  the  Spring  freshets,  and  the  gushing  voice 
Of  mountain-brooks  that  overflow  their  banks, 
Swollen  with  melting  ice  and  crumbled  earth. 

"That  is  my  song. 

It  is  made  of  water  and  wind.  It  marches  on" 

No,  John  Brown's  body  lies  a-mouldering, 

"My  bones  have  been  washed  clean 

And  God  blows  through  them  with  a  hollow  sound, 

And  God  has  shut  his  wildfire  in  my  dead  heart." 

I  hear  it  now, 

Faint,  faint  as  the  first  droning  flies  of  March, 

Faint  as  the  multitudinous,  tiny  sigh 

Of  grasses  underneath  a  windy  scythe. 

"It  will  grow  stronger" 

It  has  grown  stronger.  It  is  marching  on. 

It  is  a  throbbing  pulse,  a  pouring  surf, 

It  is  the  rainy  gong  of  the  Spring  sky 


John  Brown's  body, 

John  Brown's  body. 

But  still  it  is  not  fierce.  I  find  it  still 

More  sorrowful  than  fierce. 

"You  have  not  heard  it  yet.  You  have  not  heard 
The  ghosts  that  walk  in  it,  the  shaking  sound" 


Strong  medicine, 

Bitter  medicine  of  the  dead, 

I  drink  you  now.  I  hear  the  unloosed  thing, 

The  anger  of  the  ripe  wheat-the  ripened  earth 

Sullenly  quaking  like  a  beaten  drum 

From  Kansas  to  Vermont.  I  hear  the  stamp 

Of  the  ghost-feet  I  hear  the  ascending  sea. 

"Glory,  Glory,  Hallelujah, 
Glory,  Glory,  Hallelujah, 
Glory,  Glory,  Hallelujah!" 

What  is  this  agony  of  the  marching  dust? 
What  are  these  years  ground  into  hatchet  blades? 

"Ask  the  tide  why  it  rises  with  the  moon, 
My  bones  and  I  have  risen  like  that  tide 
And  an  mmrortal  anguish  plucks  us  up 
And  will  not  hide  us  till  our  song  is  done" 

The  phantom  drum  diminishes— the  year 
Rolls  back.  It  is  only  winter  still,  not  spring, 
The  snow  still  flings  its  white  on  the  new  grave, 
Nothing  is  changed,  John  Brown,  nothing  is  changed 
John  .  .  .  Brown  .  .  . 


A  smoke-stained  Stars-arid-Stripes  droops  from  a  broken  tooth- 
pick and  ninety  tired  men  march  out  or  fallen  Sumter  to  their 
ships,  drums  rattling  and  colors  flying. 

v  Their  faces  are  worn  and  angry,  their  bellies  empty  and  cold, 
but  the  stubborn  salute  of  a  gun,  fifty  times  repeated,  keeps  their 
backs  straight  as  they  march  out,  and  answers  something  stubborn 
and  mute  in  their  flesh. 

Beauregard,  beau  sabreur,  hussar-sword  with  the  gilded  hilt, 
the  gilded  metal  of  the  guard  twisted  into  lovelocks  and  roses, 
vain  as  Murat,  dashing  as  Murat,  Pierre  Gustave  Toutant  Beau- 
regard  is  a  pose  of  conquering  courtesy  under  a  palmetto-banner. 


The  lugubrious  little  march  goes  grimly  by  his  courtesy,  he 
watches  it  unsmiling,  a  light  half-real,  half  that  of  invisible  foot- 
lights on  his  French,  dark,  handsome  face. 

The  stone  jails  in  the  pool,  the  ripples  spread. 

The  colt  in  the  Long  Meadow  kicked  up  his  heels. 

"That  was  a  fly,"  he  thought,  "It's  early  for  flies." 

But  being  alive,  in  April,  was  too  fine 

For  flies  or  anything  else  to  bother  a  colt. 

He  kicked  up  his  heels  again,  this  time  in  pure  joy, 

And  started  to  run  a  race  with  the  wind  and  his  shadow. 

After  the  stable  stuffiness,  the  sun. 

After  the  straw-littered  boards,  the  squelch  of  the  turf. 

His  little  hoofs  felt  lighter  than  dancing-shoes, 

He  scared  himself  with  a  blue-jay,  his  heart  was  a  leaf. 

He  was  pure  joy  in  action,  he  was  the  unvexed 

Delight  of  all  moving  lightness  and  swift-footed  pace, 

The  pride  of  the  flesh,  the  young  Spring  neighing  and  rearing. 

Sally  Dupre  called  to  him  from  the  fence. 

He  came  like  a  charge  in  a  spatter  of  clean-cut  clods, 

Ears  back,  eyes  wide  and  wild  with  folly  and  youth. 

He  drew  up  snorting. 

She  laughed  and  brushed  at  her  skirt 
Where  the  mud  had  splashed  it. 

"There,  Star— there,  silly  boy! 
Why  won't  you  ever  learn  sense?" 

But  her  eyes  were  hot, 

Her  hands  were  shaking  as  she  offered  the  sugar 
—Long-fingered,  appleblossom-shadow  hands- 
Star  blew  at  the  sugar  once,  then  mumbled  it  up. 
She  patted  the  pink  nose.  "There,  silly  Star! 
That's  for  Fort  Sumter,  Star!"  How  hot  her  eyes  were! 
"Star,  do  you  know  you're  a  Confederate  horse? 
Do  you  know  I'm  going  to  call  you  Beauregard?" 

Star  whinnied,  and  asked  for  more  sugar.  She  put  her  hand 
On  his  neck  for  a  moment  that  matched  the  new  green  leaves 
And  sticky  buds  of  April. 

You  would  have  said 
They  were  grace  in  quietness,  seen  so,  woman  and  horse.  .  .  , 


The  widened  ripple  breaks  against  a  stone 
The  heavy  noon  'walks  over  Chancellorsville 
On  brazen  shoes,  but  'where  the  squadron  rode 
Into  the  ambush,  the  blue  flies  are  coming 
To  blow  on  the  dead  meat. 

Carter,  the  telegraph-operator,  sighed 
And  propped  his  eyes  awake  again. 

He  was  tired. 

Dog-tired,  stone-tired,  body  and  mind  burnt  up 
With  too  much  poker  last  night  and  too  little  sleep. 
He  hated  the  Sunday  trick.  It  was  Riley's  turn 
To  take  it,  but  Riley's  wife  was  having  a  child. 
He  cursed  the  child  and  the  wife  and  Sunday  and  Riley. 
Nothing  ever  happened  at  Stroudsburg  Siding 
And  yet  he  had  to  be  here  and  keep  awake 
With  the  flat,  stale  taste  of  too  little  sleep  in  his  mouth 
And  wait  for  nothing  to  happen. 

His  bulky  body 

Lusted  for  sleep  with  every  muscle  and  nerve. 
He'd  rather  have  sleep  than  a  woman  or  whiskey  or  money. 
He'd  give  up  the  next  three  women  that  might  occur 
For  ten  minutes7  sleep,  he'd  never  play  poker  again, 
He'd— battered  face  beginning  to  droop  on  his  hands- 
Sleep— women—whiskey— eyelids  too  heavy  to  lift— 
"Yes,  Ma,  I  said,  'Now  I  lay  me.'  "- 

The  sounder  chattered 

And  his  head  snapped  back  with  a  sharp,  neck-breaking  jerk. 
By  God,  he'd  nearly—  chat—chitter-chatter-chat-chat— 
For  a  moment  he  took  it  in  without  understanding 
And  then  the  vein  in  his  forehead  began  to  swell 
And  his  eyes  bulged  wide  awake. 

"By  Jesus!  "he  said, 

And  stared  at  the  sounder-as  if  it  had  turned  to  a  snake. 
"By  Jesus!"  he  said,  "By  Jesus,  they've  done  it!"  he  said. 

The  cruelty  of  cold  trumpets  -wounds  the  air. 
The  ponderous  princes  draw  their  gauntlets  on. 
The  captains  fit  their  coal-black  armor  on. 

Judah  P.  Benjamin,  the  dapper  Jew, 
Seal-sleek,  black-eyed,  lawyer  and  epicure, 

Able,  well-hated,  face  alive  with  life, 

Looked  round  the  council-chamber  with  the  slight 

Perpetual  smile  he  held  before  himself 

Continually  like  a  silk-ribbed  fan. 

Behind  the  fan,  his  quick,  shrewd,  fluid  mind 

Weighed  Gentiles  in  an  old  balance. 

There  they  were. 

Toombs,  the  tall,  laughing,  restless  Georgian, 
As  fine  to  look  at  as  a  yearling  bull, 
As  hard  to  manage. 

Stephens,  sickly  and  pale, 
Sweet-voiced,  weak-bodied,  ailingly  austere, 
The  mind's  thin  steel  wearing  the  body  out, 
The  racked  intelligence,  the  crippled  charm. 
Mallory— Reagan— Walker—at  the  head 

The  mind  behind  the  silk-ribbed  fan 
Was  a  dark  prince,  clothed  in  an  Eastern  stuff, 
Whose  brown  hands  cupped  about  a  crystal  egg 
That  filmed  with  colored  cloud.  The  eyes  stared,  searching, 

"I  am  the  Jew.  What  am  I  doing  here? 

The  Jew  is  in  my  blood  and  in  my  hands, 

The  lonely,  bitter  and  quicksilver  drop, 

The  stain  of  myrrh  that  dyes  no  Gentile  mind 

With  tinctures  out  of  the  East  and  the  sad  blare 

Of  the  curled  ramshorn  on  Atonement  Day. 

A  river  runs  between  these  men  and  me, 

A  river  of  blood  and  time  and  liquid  gold, 

—Oh  white  rivers  of  Canaan,  running  the  night!— 

And  we  are  colleagues.  And  we  speak  to  each  other 

Across  the  roar  of  that  river,  but  no  more. 

I  hide  myself  behind  a  smiling  fan. 

They  hide  themselves  behind  a  Gentile  mask 

And,  if  they  fall,  they  will  be  lifted  up, 

Being  the  people,  but  if  I  once  fall 

I  fall  forever,  like  the  rejected  stone. 

That  is  the  Jew  of  it,  my  Gentile  friends, 

To  see  too  far  ahead  and  yet  go  on 

And  I  can  smile  at  it  behind  my  fan 

With  a  drowned  mirth  that  you  would  find  uncouth. 

For  here  we  are,  the  makeshift  Cabinet 


Of  a  new  nation,  gravely  setting  down 
Rules,  precedents  and  cautions,  never  once 
Admitting  aloud  the  cold,  plain  Franklin  sense 
That  if  we  do  not  hang  together  now 
We  shall  undoubtedly  hang  separately. 
It  is  the  Jew,  to  see  too  far  ahead— 

I  wonder  what  they're  doing  in  the  North, 
And  how  their  Cabinet  shapes,  and  how  they  take 
Their  railsplitter,  and  if  they  waste  their  time 
As  we  waste  ours  and  Mr.  Davis's. 

Jefferson  Davis,  pride  of  Mississippi, 
First  President  of  the  Confederate  States, 
What  are  you  thinking  now? 

Your  eyes  look  tired. 

Your  face  looks  more  and  more  like  John  Calhoun. 
And  that  is  just,  because  you  are  his  son 
In  everything  but  blood,  the  austere  child 
Of  his  ideas,  the  flower  of  states-rights. 
I  will  not  gird  against  you,  Jefferson  Davis. 
I  sent  you  a  challenge  once,  but  that's  forgotten, 
And  though  your  blood  runs  differently  from  mine, 
The  Jew  salutes  you  from  behind  his  fan, 
Because  you  are  the  South  he  fell  in  love  with 
When  that  young  black-haired  girl  with  the  Gentile-eyes, 
Proud,  and  a  Catholic,  and  with  honey-lips, 
First  dinted  her  French  heels  upon  his  heart.  .  .  . 
We  have  changed  since,  but  the  remembered  Spring 
Can  change  no  more,  even  in  the  Autumn  smokes. 
We  cannot  help  that  havoc  of  the  heart 
But  my  changed  mind  remembers  half  the  spring 
And  shall  till  winter  falls. 

~No,  Jefferson  Davis, 

You  are  not  she— you  are  not  the  warm  night 
On  the  bayou,  or  the  New  Orleans  lamps, 
The  white-wine  bubbles  in  the  crystal  cup, 
The  almond  blossoms,  sleepy  with  the  sun: 
But,  nevertheless,  you  are  the  South  in  word, 
Deed,  thought  and  temper,  the  cut  cameo 
Brittle  but  durable,  renned  but  fine, 
The  hands  well-shaped,  not  subtle,  but  not  weak, 


The  mind  set  in  tradition  but  not  unjust, 
The  generous  slaveholder,  the  gentleman 
Who  neither  forces  his  gentility 
Nor  lets  it  be  held  lightly— 

and  yet,  and  yet 

I  think  you  look  too  much  like  John  Calhoun, 
I  think  your  temper  is  too  brittly-poised, 
I  think  your  hands  too  scholar-sensitive, 
And  though  they  say  you  mingle  in  your  voice 
The  trumpet  and  the  harp,  I  think  it  lacks 
That  gift  of  warming  men  which  coarser  voices 
Draw  from  the  common  dirt  you  tread  upon 
But  do  not  take  in  your  hands.  I  think  you  are 
All  things  except  success,  all  honesty 
Except  the  ultimate  honesty  of  the  earth, 
All  talents  but  the  genius  of  the  sun. 
And  yet  I  would  not  have  you  otherwise, 
Although  I  see  too  clearly  what  you  are. 

Except— except— oh  honeydropping  Spring, 
Oh  black-haired  woman  with  the  Gentile  eyes! 
Tell  me,  you  Gentiles,  when  your  Gentile  wives 
Pray  in  the  church  for  you  and  for  the  South, 
How  do  they  pray?— not  in  that  lulling  voice 
Where  some  drowned  bell  of  France  makes  undertones 
To  the  warm  river  washing  the  levee. 
You  do  not  have  so  good  a  prayer  as  mine. 
You  cannot  have  so  good  a  prayer  as  mine." 

Lincoln,  six  feet  one  in  his  stocking  feet, 
The  lank  man,  knotty  and  tough  as  a  hickory  rail, 
Whose  hands  were  always  too  big  for  white-kid  gloves, 
Whose  wit  was  a  coonskin  sack  of  dry,  tall  tales, 
Whose  weathered  face  was  homely  as  a  plowed  field- 
Abraham  Lincoln,  who  padded  up  and  down 
The  sacred  White  House  in  nightshirt  and  carpet-slippers, 
And  yet  could  strike  young  hero-worshipping  Hay 
As  dignified  past  any  neat,  balanced,  fine 
Plutarchan  sentences  carved  in  a  Latin  bronze; 
The  low  clown  out  of  the  prairies,  the  ape-buffoon, 


The  small-town  lawyer,  the  crude  small-time  politician, 

State-character  but  comparative  failure  at  forty 

In  spite  of  ambition  enough  for  twenty  Caesars, 

Honesty  rare  as  a  man  without  self-pity, 

Kindness  as  large  and  plain  as  a  prairie  wind, 

And  a  self-confidence  like  an  iron  bar: 

This  Lincoln,  President  now  by  the  grace  of  luck, 

Disunion,  politics,  Douglas  and  a  few  speeches 

Which  make  the  monumental  booming  of  Webster 

Sound  empty  as  the  belly  of  a  burst  drum, 

Lincoln  shambled  in  to  the  Cabinet  meeting 

And  sat,  ungainly  and  awkward.  Seated  so 

He  did  not  seem  so  tall  nor  quite  so  strange 

Though  he  was  strange  enough.  His  new  broadcloth  suit 

Felt  tight  and  formal  across  his  big  shoulders  still 

And  his  new  shiny  top-hat  was  not  yet  battered 

To  the  bulging  shape  of  the  old  familiar  hat 

He'd  worn  at  Springfield,  stuffed  with  its  hoard  of  papers. 

He  was  pretty  tired.  All  week  the  office-seekers 

Had  plagued  him  as  the  flies  in  fly-time  plague 

A  gaunt-headed,  patient  horse.  The  children  weren't  well 

And  Mollie  was  worried  about  them  so  sharp  with  her  tongue. 

But  he  knew  Mollie  and  tried  to  let  it  go  by. 

Men  tracked  dirt  in  the  house  and  women  liked  carpets. 

Each  had  a  piece  of  the  right,  that  was  all  most  people  could  stand. 

Look  at  his  Cabinet  here.  There  were  Seward  and  Chase, 

Both  of  them  good  men,  couldn't  afford  to  lose  them, 

But  Chase  hates  Seward  like  poison  and  Seward  hates  Chase 

And  both  of  'em  think  they  ought  to  be  President 

Instead  of  me.  When  Seward  wrote  me  that  letter 

The  other  day,  he  practically  told  me  so. 

I  suppose  a  man  who  was  touchy  about  his  pride 

Would  send  them  both  ta  the  dickens  when  he  found  out, 

But  I  can't  do  that  as  long  as  they  do  their  work. 

The  Union's  too  big  a  horse  to  keep  changing  the  saddle 

Each  time  it  pinches  you.  As  long  as  you're  sure 

The  saddle  fits,  you're  bound  to  put  up  with  the  pinches 

And  not  keep  fussing  the  horse. 

When  I  was  a  boy 

I  remember  figuring  out  when  I  went  to  town 
That  if  I  had  just  one  pumpkin  to  bump  in  a  sack 


It  was  hard  to  carry,  but  once  you  could  get  two  pumpkins, 

One  in  each  end  of  the  sack,  it  balanced  things  up. 

Seward  and  Chase'll  do  for  my  pair  of  pumpkins. 

And  as  for  me— if  anyone  else  comes  by 

Who  shows  me  that  he  can  manage  this  job  of  mine 

Better  than  I  can—well,  he  can  have  the  job. 

It's  harder  sweating  than  driving  six  cross  mules, 

But  I  haven't  run  into  that  other  fellow  yet 

And  till  or  supposing  I  meet  him,  the  job's  my  job 

And  nobody  else's. 

Seward  and  Chase  don't  know  that. 
They'll  learn  it,  in  time. 

Wonder  how  Jefferson  Davis 
Feels,  down  there  in  Montgomery,  about  Surnter. 
He  must  be  thinking  pretty  hard  and  fast, 
For  he's  an  able  man,  no  doubt  of  that. 
We  were  born  less  than  forty  miles  apart, 
Less  than  a  year  apart— he  got  the  start 
Of  me  in  age,  and  raising  too,  I  guess, 
In  fact,  from  all  you  hear  about  the  man, 
If  you  set  out  to  pick  one  of  us  two 
For  President,  by  birth  and  folks  and  schooling, 
General  raising,  training  up  in  office, 
I  guess  you'd  pick  him,  nine  times  out  of  ten 
And  yet,  somehow,  I've  got  to  last  him  out. 

These  thoughts  passed  through  the  mind  in  a  moment's  flash. 
Then  that  mind  turned  to  business. 

It  was  the  calling 
Of  seventy-five  thousand  volunteers. 

Shake  out  the  long  line  of  verse  like  a  lanyard  of  woven  steel 
And  let  us  praise  while  we  can  what  things  no  praise  can  deface, 
The  corn  that  hurried  so  fast  to  be  ground  in  an  iron  wheel 
The  obdurate,  bloody  dream  that  slept  before  it  grew  base. 

Not  the  silk  flag  and  the  shouts,  the  catchword  patrioteers, 
The  screaming  noise  of  the  press,  the  preachers  who  howled  for 


But  a  certain  and  stubborn  pith  in  the  hearts  of  the  cannoneers 
Who  hardly  knew  their  guns  before  they  died  in  the  mud. 


They  came  like  a  run  of  salmon  where  the  ice-fed  Kennebec  flings 
Its  death  at  the  arrow-silver  of  the  packed  and  mounting  host, 
They  came  like  the  young  deer  trooping  to  the  ford  by  Eutaw 

Their  new  horns  fuzzy  with  velvet,  their  coats  still  rough  with 

the  frost. 

North  and  South  they  assembled,  one  cry  and  the  other  cry, 
And  both  are  ghosts  to  us  now,  old  drums  hung  up  on  a  wall, 
But  they  were  the  first  hot  wave  of  youth  too-ready  to  die, 
And  they  went  to  war  with  an  air,  as  if  they  went  to  a  ball. 

Dress-uniform  boys  who  rubbed  their  buttons  brighter  than  gold, 
And  gave  them  to  girls  for  flowers  and  raspberry-lemonade, 
Unused  to  the  sick  fatigue,  the  route-march  made  in  the  cold, 
The  stink  of  the  fever  camps,  the  tarnish  rotting  the  blade. 

We  in  our  time  have  seen  that  impulse  going  to  war 

And  how  that  impulse  is  dealt  with.  We  have  seen  the  circle 

complete.  * 

The  ripe  wheat  wasted  like  trash  between  the  fool  and  the  whore. 
We  cannot  praise  again  that  anger  of  the  ripe  wheat. 

This  we  have  seen  as  well,  distorted  and  half-forgotten 

In  what  came  before  and  after,  where  the  blind  went  leading  the 


The  first  swift  rising  of  youth  before  the  symbols  were  rotten, 
The  price  too  much  to  pay,  the  payment  haughty  in  kind. 

So  with  these  men  and  then.  They  were  much  like  the  men  you 

Under  the  beards  and  the  strangeness  of  clothes  with  a  different 

They  wrote  mush-notes  to  their  girls  and  wondered  how  it  would 


Half-scared,  half-fierce  at  the  thought,  but  none  yet  ready  to 


Georgia,  New  York,  Virginia,  Rhode  Island,  Florida,  Maine, 
Piney-woods  squirrel-hunter  and  clerk  with  the  brand-new  gun, 
Thus  they  were  marshalled  and  drilled,  while  Spring  turned 
Summer  again, 


Until  they  could  stumble  toward  death  at  gartersnake-crooked 
"  ~lun. 

il  they  < 
Bull  Ru 

Wingate  sat  in  his  room  at  night 

Between  the  moon  and  the  candle-light, 

Reading  his  Byron  with  knitted  brows, 

While  his  mind  drank  in  the  peace  of  his  house, 

It  was  long  past  twelve,  and  the  night  was  deep 

With  moonlight  and  silence  and  wind  and  sleep, 

And  the  small,  dim  noises,  thousand-fold, 

That  all  old  houses  and  forests  hold. 

The  boards  that  creak  for  nothing  at  all, 

The  leaf  that  rustles,  the  bough  that  sighs, 

The  nibble  of  mice  in  the  wainscot-wall, 

And  the  slow  clock  ticking  the  time  that  dies 

All  distilled  in  a  single  sound 

Like  a  giant  breathing  underground, 

A  sound  more  sleepy  than  sleep  itself. 

Wingate  put  his  book  on  the  shelf 

And  went  to  the  window.  It  was  good 

To  walk  in  the  ghost  through  a  silver  wood 

And  set  one's  mettle  against  the  far 

Bayonet-point  of  the  fixed  North  Star. 

Fie  stood  there  a  moment,  wondering. 

North  Star,  wasp  with  the  silver  sting 

Blue-nosed  star  on  the  Yankee  banners, 

We  are  coming  against  you  to  teach  you  manners! 

With  crumbs  of  thunder  and  wreaths  of  myrtle 

And  cannon  that  dance  to  a  Dixie  chorus. 

With  a  song  that  bites  like  a  mapping-turtle 

And  the  tiger-lily  of  Summer  before  us, 

To  pull  you  doivn  like  a  torn  bandanna, 

And  drown  you  deeper  than  the  Savannah! 

And  still,  while  his  arrogance  made  its  cry, 
He  shivered  a  little,  wondering  why. 

There  was  his  uniform,  grey  as  ash, 
The  boots  that  shone  like  a  well-rubbed  table, 
The  tassels  of  silk  on  the  colored  sash 
And  sleek  Black  Whistle  down  in  the  stable, 
The  housewife,  stitched  from  a  beauty's  fan, 

The  pocket-Bible  with  Mother's  writing, 

The  sabre  never  yet  fleshed  in  man, 

And  all  the  crisp  new  toys  of  fighting. 

He  gloated  at  them  with  a  boyish  pride, 

But  still  he  wondered,  Monmouth-eyed. 

The  Black  Horse  Troop  was  a  cavalier 

And  gallant  name  for  a  lady's  ear. 

He  liked  the  sound  and  the  ringing  brag 

And  the  girls  who  stitched  on  the  county  flag, 

The  smell  of  horses  and  saddle-leather 

And  the  feel  of  the  squadron  riding  together, 

From  the  loose-reined  canter  of  colts  at  large, 

To  the  crammed,  tense  second  before  the  charge: 

He  liked  it  all  with  the  young,  keen  zest 

Of  a  hound  unleashed  and  a  hawk  un jessed. 

And  yet— 'what  happened  to  men  in  war? 
Why  'were  they  all  going  out  to  'war? 

He  brooded  a  moment.  It  wasn't  slavery, 
That  stale  red-herring  of  Yankee  knavery 
Nor  even  states-rights,  at  least  not  solely, 
But  something  so  dim  that  it  must  be  holy. 
A  voice,  a  fragrance,  a  taste  of  wine, 
A  face  half-seen  in  old  candleshine, 
A  yellow  river,  a  blowing  dust, 
Something  beyond  you  that  you  must  trust, 
Something  so  shrouded  it  must  be  great, 
The  dead  men  building  the  living  State 
From  'simmon-seed  on  a  sandy  bottom, 
The  woman  South  in  her  rivers  laving 
That  body  whiter  than  new-blown  cotton 
And  savage  and  sweet  as  wild-orange-blossom, 
The  dark  hair  streams  on  the  barbarous  bosom, 
If  there  ever  has  been  a  land  worth  saving— 
In  Dixie  land,  Til  take  my  stand, 
And  live  and  die  for  Dixie!  . . . 

And  yet—and  yet— in  some  cold  Northern  room, 
Does  anyone  else  stare  out  the  obdurate  moon 
With  doubtful  passion,  seeing  his  toys  of  fighting 
Scribbled  all  over  with  such  silver  writing 

From  such  a  heart  of  peace,  they  seem  the  stale 

Cast  properties  of  a  dead  and  childish  tale? 

And  does  he  see,  too  soon, 

Over  the  horse,  over  the  horse  and  rider, 

The  grey,  soft  swathing  shadowness  of  the  spider, 

Spinning  his  quiet  loom? 

No-no  other  man  is  cursed 

With  such  doubleness  of  eye, 

They  can  hunger,  they  can  thirst, 

But  they  know  for  what  and  why. 

I  can  drink  the  midnight  out, 
And  rise  empty,  having  dined. 
For  my  courage  and  my  doubt 
Are  a  double  strarfd  of  mind, 
And  too  subtly  intertwined. 
They  are  my  flesh,  they  are  my  bone, 
My  shame  and  my  foundation-stone. 
I  was  born  alone,  to  live  alone. 

Sally  Dupre,  Sally  Dupre, 

Eyes  that  are  neither  black  nor  grey, 

Why  do  you  haunt  me,  night  and  day? 

Sea-changing  eyes,  with  the  deep,  drowned  glimmer 

Of  bar-gold  crumbling  from  sunken  ships, 

Where  the  sea-dwarfs  creep  through  the  streaked,  green  shimmer 

To  press  the  gold  to  their  glass-cold  lips. 

They  sculpture  the  gold  for  a  precious  ring, 

In  the  caverns  under  the  under-skies, 

They  would  marry  the  sea  to  a  sailor-king! 

You  have  taken  my  heart  from  me,  sea-born  eyes. 

You  have  taken  it,  yes,  but  I  do  not  know. 

There  are  too  many  roads  where  I  must  go. 

There  are  too  many  beds  where  I  have  slept 

For  a  night  unweeping,  to  quit  unwept, 

And  it  needs  a  king  to  marry  the  sea. 

Why  have  you  taken  my  heart  from  me? 

I  am  not  justice  nor  loyalty. 

I  am  the  shape  of  the  weathercock, 

That  all  winds  come  to  and  all  winds  mock. 

You  are  the  image  of  sea-carved  stone, 

The  silent  thing  that  can  suffer  alone, 
The  little  women  are  easier, 
The  easy  women  make  lighter  love, 
I  will  not  take  your  face  to  the  war, 
I  will  not  carry  your  cast-off  glove. 

Sally  Dupre,  Sally  Dupre, 

Heart  and  body  like  sea-blown  spray, 

I  cannot  forget  you,  night  or  day. 

So  Wingate  pondered  in  Wingate  Hall, 

And  hated  and  loved  in  a  single  breath, 

As  he  tried  to  unriddle  the  doubtful  scrawl 

Of  war  and  courage  and  love  and  death, 

And  then  was  suddenly  nothing  but  sleep— 

And  tomorrow  they  marched— to  a  two-months  chasing 

Of  Yankees  running  away  like  sheep 

And  peace  in  time  for  the  Macon  racing. 

He  got  in  his  bed.  Where  the  moonlight  poured, 
It  lay  like  frost  on  a  sleeping  sword. 

It  was  stuffy  at  night  in  the  cabins,  stuffy  but  warm. 

And  smells  are  a  matter  of  habit.  So,  if  the  air 

Was  thick  as  black  butter  with  the  commingled  smells 

Of  greens  and  fried  fat  and  field-sweat  and  heavy  sleep, 

The  walls  were  well-chinked,  the  low  roof  kept  out  the  rain. 

Not  like  the  tumble-down  cabins  at  Zachary's  place 

Where  the  field-hands  lived  all  year  on  hominy-grits 

And  a  piece  of  spoiled  pork  at  Christmas. 

But  Zachary 

Was  a  mean  man  out  of  the  Bottoms,  no  quality  to  him. 
Wingate  was  quality.  Wingate  cared  for  its  own. 
A  Wingate  cabin  was  better  than  most  such  cabins, 
You  might  have  called  it  a  sty,  had  they  set  you  there; 
A  Middle  Age  serf  might  have  envied  the  well-chinked  walls. 
While  as  for  its  tenants  then,  being  folk  unversed 
In  any  law  but  the  law  of  the  Wingate  name, 
They  were  glad  to  have  it,  glad  for  fire  on  the  hearth, 
A  roof  from  the  dark-veined  wind. 

Their  bellies  were  war; 


And  full  of  food.  They  were  heavy  in  love  with  each  other. 
They  liked  their  cabin  and  lying  next  to  each  other, 
Long  nights  of  winter  when  the  slow-burning  pine-knots 
Danced  ghosts  and  witches  over  the  low,  near  ceiling, 
Short  nights  of  summer,  after  the  work  of  the  fields, 
When  the  hot  body  aches  with  the  ripened  sweetness 
And  the  children  and  the  new  tunes  are  begotten  together. 

"What  you  so  wakeful  for,  black  boy?" 

"Thinkin',  woman." 

"You  got  no  call  to  be  thinkin',  little  black  boy, 
Thinkin's  a  trouble,  a  h'ant  lookin'  over  de  shoulder, 
Set  yo'  head  on  my  breas'  and  forget  about  thinkin'." 

"I  got  my  head  on  yo'  breas',  and  it's  sof '  dere,  woman, 
Sof '  and  sweet  as  a  mournin'  out  of  de  Scriptures, 
Sof  as  two  Solomon  doves.  But  I  can't  help  thinkin'." 

"Ain't  I  good  enough  for  you  no  more,  black  boy? 
Don'  you  love  me  no  more  dat  you  mus'  keep  thinkin'?" 

"You's  better'n  good  to  me  and  I  loves  you,  woman, 
Till  I  feels  like  Meshuck  down  in  de  fiery  furnace, 
Till  I  feels  like  God's  own  chile.  But  I  keeps  on  thinkin', 
Wonderin'  what  I'd  feel  like  if  I  was  free." 

"Hush,  black  boy,  hush  for  de  Lord's  sake!" 

"But  listen,  woman — " 

"Hush  yo'self,  black  boy,  lean  yo'self  on  my  breas', 
Talk  like  that  and  paterollers'll  git  you, 
Swinge  you  all  to  bits  with  a  blacksnake  whip, 
Squinch-owl  carry  yo'  talk  to  de  paterollers, 
It  ain't  safe  to  talk  like  that." 

"I  got  to,  woman, 
I  got  a  f  eelin*  in  niy  heart." 

"Den  you  sot  on  dat  feelin'! 
Never  heard  you  talk  so  in  all  my  born  days! 
Ain't  we  got  a  good  cabin  here?" 

"Sho',  we  got  a  good  cabin." 

"Ain't  we  got  good  vittles,  ain't  old  Mistis  kind  to  us?" 

"Sho'  we  got  good  vittles,  and  ole  Mistis  she's  kind. 
Fse  mighty  fond  of  ole  Mistis.1' 

"Den  what  you  talking 
You  brash  fool-nigger?" 

"I  just  got  a  feelin',  woman. 
Ole  Marse  Billy,  he's  goin'  away  tomorrow, 
Marse  Clay,  he's  goin'  with  him  to  fight  de  Yankees, 
All  of  'em  goin',  yes  suh." 

"And  what  if  dey  is?" 

"Well,  sposin'  de  Yankees  beats?" 

"Ain't  you  got  no  sense, 

Like  to  see  any  ole  Yankees  lick  ole  Marse  Billy 
And  young  Marse  Clay!" 

"Hi,  woman,  ain't  dat  de  trufe!" 
-Well,  den—" 

"But  I  sees  'em  all,  jus'  goin'  and  goin', 
Goin'  to  war  like  Joshua,  goin'  like  David, 
And  it  makes  me  want  to  be  free.  Ain't  you  never  thought 
At  all  about  bein'  free?" 

"Sho',  co'se  I  thought  of  it. 
I  always  reckoned  when  ole  Marse  Billy  died, 
Old  Mistis  mebbe  gwine  to  set  some  of  us  free, 
Mebbe  she  will." 

"But  we-uns  gwine  to  be  old  den, 
We  won't  be  young  and  have  the  use  of  our  hands, 
We  won't  see  our  young  'uns  growin'  up  free  around  us, 
We  won't  have  the  strength  to  hoe  our  own  co'n  ourselves, 
I  want  to  be  free,  like  me,  while  I  got  my  strength." 

"You  might  be  a  lot  worse  off  and  not  be  free, 
What'd  you  do  if  ole  man  Zachary  owned  us?" 

"Kill  him,  I  reckon." 

"Hush,  black  boy,  for  God's  sake  hush!" 

"I  can't  help  it,  woman.  Dey  ain't  so  many  like  him 
But  what  dey  is  is  too  pizen-mean  to  live. 
Can't  you  hear  dat  feelin'  I  got,  woman?  I  ain't  scared 
Of  talk  and  de  paterollers,  and  I  ain't  mean. 


Fse  mighty  fond  of  ole  Mistis  and  ole  Marse  Billy, 

Fse  mighty  fond  of  'em  all  at  de  Big  House, 

I  wouldn't  be  nobody  else's  nigger  for  nothin'. 

But  I  hears  'em  goin'  away,  all  goin*  away, 

With  horses  and  guns  and  things,  all  stompin'  and  wavin', 

And  I  hears  de  chariot-wheels  and  de  Jordan  River, 

Rollin'  and  rollin'  and  rollin'  thu'  my  sleep, 

And  I  wants  to  be  free.  I  wants  to  see  my  chillun 

Growin'  up  free,  and  all  bust  out  of  Egypt! 

I  wants  to  oe  free  like  an  eagle  in  de  air, 

Like  an  eagle  in  de  air." 

Iron-filings  scattered  over  a  dusty 
Map  of  crook-cornered  States  in  yellow  and  blue. 
Little,  grouped  male  and  female  iron-filings, 
Scattered  over  a  patchwork-quilt  whose  patches 
Are  the  red-earth  stuff  of  Georgia,  the  pine-bough  green  of  Ver- 

Here  you  are  clustered  as  thick  as  a  clump  of  bees 
In  swarming  time.  The  clumps  make  cities  and  towns. 
Here  you  are  strewn  at  random,  like  single  seeds 
Lost  out  of  the  wind's  pocket. 

But  now,  but  now, 

The  thunderstone  has  fallen  on  your  map 
And  all  the  iron-filings  shiver  and  move 
Under  the  grippings  of  that  blinded  force, 
The  cold  pull  of  the  ash-and-cinder  star. 

The  map  is  vexed  with  the  long  battle-worms 
Of  filings,  clustered  and  moving. 

If  it  is 

An  enemy  of  the  sun  who  has  so  stolen 
Power  from  a  burnt  star  to  do  this  work, 
Let  the  bleak  essence  of  the  utter  cold 
Beyond  the  last  gleam  of  the  most  outpost  light 
Freeze  in  his  veins  forever. 

But  if  it  is 

A  fault  in  the  very  metal  of  the  heart, 
We  and  our  children  must  acquit  that  fault 
With  the  old  bloody  wastage,  or  give  up 
Playing  the  father  to  it. 


0  vexed  and  strange, 

Salt-bitter,  apple-sweet,  strong-handed  life! 
Your  million  lovers  cast  themselves  like  sea 
Against  your  mountainy  breast,  with  a  clashing  noise 
And  a  proud  clamor-and  like  sea  recoil, 
Sucked  down  beneath  the  forefoot  of  the  new 
Advancing  surf.  They  feed  the  battle-worms, 
Not  only  War's,  but  in  the  second's  pause 
Between  the  assaulting  and  the  broken  wave, 
The  voices  of  the  lovers  can  be  heard, 
The  sea-gull  cry, 

Jake  Diefer,  the  barrel-chested  Pennsylvanian, 
Hand  like  a  ham  and  arms  that  could  wrestle  a  bull, 
A  roast  of  a  man,  all  solid  meat  and  good  fat, 
A  slow-thought-chewing  Clydesdale  horse  of  a  man, 
Roused  out  of  his  wife's  arms.  The  dawn  outside 
Was  ruddy  as  his  big  cheeks.  He  yawned  and  stretched 
Gigantically,  hawking  and  clearing  his  throat. 
His  wife,  hair  tousled  around  her  like  tousled  corn, 
Stared  at  him  with  sleep-blind  eyes. 

"Juke,  it  ain't  come  morning, 
Already  yet?" 

He  nodded  and  started  to  dress. 
She  burrowed  deeper  into  the  bed  for  a  minute 
&nd  then  threw  off  the  covers. 

They  didn't  say  much 

Then,  or  at  breakfast.  Eating  was  something  serious. 
But  he  looked  around  the  big  kitchen  once  or  twice 
In  a  puzzled  way,  as  if  trying  hard  to  remember  it. 
She  too,  when  she  was  buSy  with  the  first  batch 
Of  pancakes,  burnt  one  or  two,  because  she  was  staring 
At  the  "SALT"  on  the  salt-box,  for  no  particular  reason, 
The  boy  ate  with  them  and  didn't  say  a  word, 
Being  too  sleepy. 

Afterwards,  when  the  team 
Was  hitched  up  and  waiting,  with  the  boy  on  the  seat, 
Holding  the  reins  till  Jake  was  ready  to  take  them, 
Jake  didn't  take  them  at  once. 

The  sun  was  up  now, 
The  spilt-milk-mist  of  first  morning  lay  on  the  farm, 


Jake  looked  at  it  all  with  those  same  mildly-puzzled  eyes, 
The  red  barn,  the  fat  rich  fields  just  done  with  the  winter, 
Just  beginning  the  work  of  another  year. 
The  boy  would  have  to  do  the  rest  of  the  planting. 

He  blew  on  his  hands  and  stared  at  his  wife  dumbly. 
He  cleared  his  throat. 

"Well,  good-by,  Minnie,"  he  said, 

"Don't  you  hire  any  feller  for  harvest  without  you  write  me, 
And  if  any  more  of  those  lightning-rodders  come  around, 
We  don't  want  no  more  dum  lightning-rods." 

He  tried 

To  think  if  there  was  anything  else,  but  there  wasn't. 
She  suddenly  threw  her  big,  red  arms  around  his  neck, 
He  kissed  her  with  clumsy  force. 

Then  he  got  on  the  wagon 
And  clucked  to  the  horses  as  she  started  to  cry. 

Up  in  the  mountains  where  the  hogs  are  thin 
And  razorbacked,  wild  Indians  of  hogs, 
The  laurel's  green  in  April—and  if  the  nights 
Are  cold  as  the  cold  cloud  of  watersmoke 
Above  a  mountain-spring,  the  midday  sun 
Has  heat  enough  in  it  to  make  you  sweat. 

They  are  a  curious  and  most  native  stock, 

The  lanky  men,  the  lost,  forgotten  seeds 

Spilled  from  the  first  great  wave-march  toward  the  West 

And  set  to  sprout  by  chance  in  the  deep  cracks 

Of  that  hill-billy  world  of  laurel-hells. 

They  keep  the  beechwood-fiddle  and  the  salt 

Old-fashioned  ballad-English  of  our  first 

Rowdy,  corn-liquor-drinking,  ignorant  youth; 

Also  the  rifle  and  the  frying-pan, 

The  old  feud-temper  and  the  old  feud-way 

Of  thinking  strangers  better  shot  on  sight 

But  treating  strangers  that  one  leaves  unshot 

With  border-hospitality. 

The  girls 
Have  the  brief-blooming,  rhododendron-youth 


Of  pioneer  women,  and  the  black-toothed  age. 

And  if  you  yearn  to  meet  your  pioneers, 

You'll  nnd  them  there,  the  same  men,  inbred  sons 

Of  inbred  sires  perhaps,  but  still  the  same; 

A  pioneer-island  in  a  world  that  has 

No  use  for  pioneers— the  unsplit  rock 

Of  Fundamentalism,  calomel, 

Clan-virtues,  clannish  vices,  fiddle-tunes 

And  a  hard  God. 

They  are  our  last  frontier. 
They  shot  the  railway-train  when  it  first  came, 
And  when  the  Fords  first  came,  they  shot  the  Fords. 
It  could  not  save  them.  They  are  dying  now 
Or  being  educated,  which  is  the  same. 
One  need  not  weep  romantic  tears  for  them, 
But  when  the  last  moonshiner  buys  his  radio, 
And  the  last,  lost,  wild-rabbit  of  a  girl 
Is  civilized  with  a  mail-order  dress, 
Something  will  pass  that  was  American 
And  all  the  movies  will  not  bring  it  back. 

They  are  misfit  and  strange  in  our  new  day, 
In  Sixty-One  they  were  not  quite  so  strange, 
Before  the  Fords,  before  the  day  of  the  Fords  .  .  . 

Luke  Breckinridge,  his  rifle  on  his  shoulder, 
Slipped  through  green  forest  alleys  toward  the  town, 
A  gawky  boy  with  smoldering  eyes,  whose  feet 
Whispered  tne  crooked  paths  like  moccasins. 
He  wasn't  looking  for  trouble,  going  down, 
But  he  was  on  guard,  as  always.  When  he  stopped 
To  scoop  some  water  in  the  palm  of  his  hand 
From  a  sweet  trickle  between  moss-grown  rocks, 
You  might  have  thought  him  careless  for  a  minute, 
But  when  the  snapped  stick  cracked  six  feet  behind  him 
He  was  all  sudden  rifle  and  hard  eyes. 
The  pause  endured  a  long  death-quiet  instant, 
Then  he  knew  who  it  was. 

"Hi,  Jim,"  he  said, 

Lowering  his  rifle.  The  green  laurel-screen 
Hardly  had  moved,  but  Jim  was  there  beside  him. 
The  cousins  looked  at  each  other.  Their  rifles  seemed 
To  look  as  well,  with  much  the  same  taut  silentness. 


"Coin'  to  town,  Luke?" 

"Uh-huh,  goin'  to  town, 
You  goin'?" 

"Looks  as  if  I  was  goin'." 

As  if  you  was  after  squirrels." 

"I  might  be. 

You  goin'  after  squirrels?"  "I  might  be,  too." 
"Not  so  many  squirrels  near  town." 

"No,  reckon  there's  not." 

Jim  hesitated.  His  gaunt  hands  caressed 

The  smooth  guard  of  his  rifle.  His  eyes  were  sharp. 

"Might  go  along  a  piece  together,"  he  said. 

Luke  didn't  move.  Their  eyes  clashed  for  a  moment, 

Then  Luke  spoke,  casually. 

"I  hear  the  Kelceys 

Air  goin'  to  fight  in  this  here  war,"  he  said. 
Jim  nodded  slowly,  "Yuh,  I  heerd  that  too." 
He  watched  Luke's  trigger-hand. 

"I  might  be  goin' 

Myself  sometime,"  he  said  reflectively 
Sliding  his  own  hand  down.  Luke  saw  the  movement. 
"We-uns  don't  like  the  Kelceys  much,"  he  said 
With  his  eyes  down  to  pinpoints. 

Then  Jim  smiled. 
'We-uns  neither,"  he  said. 

His  hand  slid  back. 

They  went  along  together  after  that 

But  neither  of  them  spoke  for  half-a-mile, 

Then  finally,  Jim  said,  half-diffidently, 

"You  know  who  we  air  goin'  to  fight  outside? 

I  heard  it  was  the  British.  Air  that  so?" 

"Hell,  no,"  said  Luke,  with  scorn.  He  puckered  his  brows. 

"Dunno's  I  rightly  know  just  who  they  air." 

He  admitted  finally,  "But  'tain't  the  British. 

It's  some  trash-lot  of  furriners,  that's  shore. 

They  call  'em  Yankees  near  as  I  kin  make  it, 

But  they  ain't  Injuns  neither." 

"Well,"  said  Jim 


o  y,  "Reckon  it  don't  rightly  matter 
Long  as  the  Kelceys  take  the  other  side." 

It  was  noon  when  the  company  marched  to  the  railroad-station. 
The  town  was  ready  for  them.  The  streets  were  packed. 
There  were  flags  and  streamers  and  pictures  of  Lincoln  and 


The  bad  little  boys  climbed  up  on  the  trees  and  yelled, 
The  good  little  boys  had  clean  paper-collars  on, 
And  swung  big-eyed  on  white-painted  wicket-gates, 
Wanting  to  yell,  and  feeling  like  Fourth  of  July. 
Somebody  fastened  a  tin  can  full  of  firecrackers 
To  a  yellow  dog's  tail  and  sent  him  howling  and  racketing 
The  length  of  the  street. 

"There  goes  Jeff  Davis!"  said  somebody, 
And  everybody  laughed,  and  the  little  boys 
Punched  each  other  and  squealed  between  fits  of  laughing 
"There  goes  Jeff  Davis-lookit  ole  yellow  Jeff  Davis!" 
And  then  the  laugh  died  and  rose  again  in  a  strange 
Half -shrill,  half-strangled  unexpected  shout 
As  they  heard  the  Hillsboro'  Silver  Cornet  Band 
Swinging  "John  Brown's  Body"  ahead  of  the  soldiers. 
/  have  heard  that  soul  of  crowd  go  out  in  the  queer 
Groan  between  laughter  and  tears  that  baffles  the  wise. 
I  have  heard  that  whanging  band. 

"We'll  hang  Jeff  Davis  on  a  sour-apple  tree." 

Double-roll  on  the  snare-drums,  double  squeal  of  the  fife, 

"We'll  hang  Jeff  Davis  on  a  sour-apple  freer 

Clash  of  the  cymbals  zinging,  throaty  blare  of  cornets, 

"We'll  hang  Jeff  Davis  on  a  sour-apple  treer 

"On  to  Richmond!  On  to  Richmond!  On  to  Richmond!" 

"Yeah!  There  they  come!  Yeah!  Yeah!" 

And  they  came,  the  bearskin  drum-major  leading  the  band, 

Twirling  his  silver-balled  baton  with  turkey-cock  pomp, 

The  cornet-blowers,  the  ranks.  The  drum-major  was  fine, 

But  the  little  boys  thought  the  captain  was  even  finer, 

He  looked  just  like  a  captain  out  of  a  book 

With  his  sword  and  his  shoulder-straps  and  his  discipline-face. 

He  wasn't  just  Henry  Fairfield,  he  was  a  captain, 

-Henry  Fairfield  worried  about  his  sword, 

Hoping  to  God  that  he  wouldn't  drop  his  sword, 


And  wondering  hotly  whether  his  discipline-face 

Really  looked  disciplined  or  only  peevish— 

"Yeah!  There  they  come!  There's  Jack!  There's  Charlie!  Yeah! 


The  color-guard  with  the  stiff,  new  flapping  flag, 
And  the  ranks  and  the  ranks  and  the  ranks,  the  amateur 
Blue,  wavering  ranks,  in  their  ill-fitting  tight  coats, 
Shoulders  galled  already  by  their  new  guns, 
—They  were  three-months'  men,  they  had  drilled  in  civilian 


Till  a  week  ago— "There's  Charlie!  There's  Hank,  yeah,  yeah!" 
"On  to  Richmond,  boys!  Three  cheers  for  Abe  Lincoln! 
Three  cheers  for  the  boys!  Three  groans  for  old  Jeff  Davis 
And  the  dirty  Rebs!" 
"We'll  hang  Jeff  Davis  on  a  sour-apple  tree!" 

Jack  Ellyat,  marching,  saw  between  blue  shoulders 
A  blur  of  faces.  They  all  were  faces  he  knew, 
Old  Mrs.  Cobb  with  her  wart  and  her  Paisley  shawl, 
Little  George  Freeman,  the  slim  Tucker  girls, 
All  of  them  cheering  and  shouting— and  all  of  them  strange 
Suddenly,  different,  faces  he'd  never  seen. 
Faces  somehow  turned  into  one  crowd-face. 
His  legs  went  marching  along  all  right  but  they  felt 
Like  somebody  else's  legs,  his  mind  was  sucked  dry. 
It  was  real,  they  were  going  away,  the  town  was  cheering  them. 
Henry  Fairfield  was  marching  ahead  with  his  sword. 
Just  as  he'd  thought  about  it  a  thousand  times, 
These  months— but  it  wasn't  the  way  that  he'd  thought  about  it. 
"On  to  Richmond!  On  to  Richmond!  On  to  Richmond!" 
There  were  Mother  and  Father  and  Jane  and  the  house. 
Jane  was  waving  a  flag.  He  laughed  and  called  to  them. 
But  his  voice  was  stiff  in  his  throat,  not  like  his  real  voice. 
This,  everything,  it  was  too  quick,  too  crowded,  not  Phaeton 
Charging  his  snarling  horses  at  a  black  sea, 
But  a  numb,  hurried  minute  with  legs  that  marched 
Mechanically,  feeling  nothing  at  all. 
The  white  crowd-face— the  sweat  on  the  red  seamed  neck 
Of  the  man  ahead— "On  to  Richmond!"— blue  shoulders  bobbing— 
Flags— cheering— somebody  kissed  him— Ellen  Baker- 
She  was  crying— wet  mouth  of  tears— didn't  want  her  to  kiss  him— 
Why  did  she  want  to— the  station— halt— Mother  and  Jane. 


The  engineer  wore  a  flag  in  his  coat-lapel. 

The  engine  had  U0n  to  Richmond!"  chalked  all  over  it. 

Nothing  to  say  now-Mother  looks  tired  to  death- 

I  wish  I  weren't  going— no,  I'm  glad  that  I  am— 

The  damn  band's  playing  "John  Brown's  Body"  again, 

I  wish  they'd  stop  it!— I  wish  to  God  we  could  start— 

There-£/0$e  up,  menl-oh  my  God,  they've  let  Ned  out! 

I  told  them  for  God's  sake  to  lock  him  up  in  the  cellar, 

But  they've  let  him  out— maybe  he  got  out  by  himself— 

He's  got  too  much  sense-"No,  down,  Ned!  Down,  good  dog! 

Down,  I  tell  you!-" 

"Good-by,  boys!  Good-by!  We'll  hang  Jeff 

The  engine  squealed,  the  packed  train  started  to  move. 
Ned  wanted  to  come,  but  they  wouldn't  let  him  come. 
They  had  to  kick  him  away,  he  couldn't  see  why. 

In  another  column,  footsore  Curly  Hatton 

Groaned  at  the  thought  of  marching  any  more. 

His  legs  weren't  built  for  marching  and  they  knew  it, 

Butterball-legs  under  a  butterball-body. 

The  plump  good-tempered  face  with  its  round  eyes 

Blue  and  astonished  as  a  china-doll's, 

Stared  at  the  road  ahead  and  hated  it 

Because  there  was  so  much  of  it  ahead 

And  all  of  it  so  dry. 

He  didn't  mind 

The  rest  so  much.  He  didn't  even  mind 
Being  the  one  sure  necessary  joke 
Of  the  whole  regiment.  He'd  always  been 
A  necessary  joke-fat  people  were. 
Fat  babies  always  were  supposed  to  laugh. 
Fat  little  boys  had  fingers  poked  at  them. 
And,  even  with  the  road,  and  being  fat, 
You  had  a  good  time  in  this  funny  war, 
Considering  everything,  and  one  thing  most. 

His  mind  slipped  back  two  months.  He  saw  himself 
In  the  cool  room  at  Weatherby's  Retreat 
1  Where  all  the  girls  were  sewing  the  new  star 
In  the  new  flag  for  the  first  volunteers. 

He  hadn't  thought  of  fighting  much  before, 

He  was  too  easy-going.  If  Virginia 

Wanted  secession,  that  was  her  affair. 

It  seemed  too  bad  to  break  the  Union  up 

After  some  seventy  years  of  housekeeping. 

But  he  could  understand  the  way  you'd  feel 

If  you  were  thin  and  angry  at  the  Yanks. 

He  knew  a  lot  of  Yankees  that  he  liked, 

But  then  he  liked  most  people,  'on  the  whole 

Although  most  girls  and  women  made  him  shy. 

He  loved  the  look  of  them  and  the  way  they  walked, 

He  loved  their  voices  and  their  little  sweet  mouths, 

But  something  always  seemed  to  hold  him  back, 

When  he  was  near  them. 

He  was  too  fat,  too  friendly, 
Too  comfortable  for  dreams,  too  easy-shy. 
The  porcelain  dolls  stood  on  the  mantelpiece, 
Waiting  such  slim  and  arrant  cavaliers 
As  porcelain  dolls  must  have  to  make  them  proud, 
They  had  no  mercy  for  fat  Cupidons, 
Not  even  Lucy,  all  the  years  before, 
And  Lucy  was  the  porcelain  belle  of  the  world! 
And  so  when  she  said. 

And  he  couldn't  believe 
At  first. 

But  she  was  silver  and  fire  and  steel 
That  day  of  the  new  stars  and  the  new  flag, 
Fire  and  bright  steel  for  the  invading  horde 
And  silver  for  the  men  who  drove  them  off, 
And  so  she  sewed  him  in  her  flag  and  heart: 
Though  even  now,  he  couldn't  believe  she  had 
In  spite  of  all  the  letters  and  the  socks 
And  kissing  him  before  he  went  away. 
But  it  was  so— the  necessary  joke 
Made  into  a  man  at  last,  a  man  in  love 
And  loved  by  the  most  porcelain  belle  of  the  world. 
And  he  was  ready  to  march  to  the  world's  end 
And  fight  ten  million  Yanks  to  keep  it  so. 

"Oh  God,  after  we're  married-the  cool  night 

Over  the  garden—and  Lucy  sitting  there 

In  her  blue  dress  while  the  big  stars  come  out." 


His  face  was  funny  with  love  and  footsore  pride, 
The  man  beside  him  saw  it,  gave  a  laugh, 
"Curly's  thinking  it's  time  for  a  julep,  boys! 
Hot  work  for  fat  men,  Curly!" 

The  crows  fly  over  the  Henry  House,  through  the  red  sky  of 

evening,  cawing, 
Judith  Henry,  bedridden,  watches  them  through  the  clouded 

glass  of  old  sight. 

(July  is  hot  in  Virginia— a  parched,  sun-leathered  farmer  sawing 
Dry  sticks  with  a  cicada-saw  that  creaks  all  the  lukewarm  night.) 

But  Judith  Henry's  hands  are  cool  in  spite  of  all  midsummer's 

Cool,  muted  and  frail  with  age  like  the  smoothness  of  old  yellow 
linen,  the  cool  touch  of  old,  dulled  rings. 

Her  years  go  past  her  in  bed  like  falling  waters  and  the  waters 
of  a  millwheel  turning, 

And  she  is  not  ill  content  to  lie  there,  dozing  and  calm,  remem- 
bering youth,  to  the  gushing  of  those  watersprings. 

She  has  known  Time  like  the  cock  of  red  dawn  and  Time  like  a 

tired  clock  slowing; 
She  has  seen  so  many  faces  and  bodies,  young  and  then  old,  so 

much  life,  so  many  patterns  of  death  and  birth. 
She  knows  that  she  must  leave  them  soon.  She  is  not  afraid  to 

flow  with  that  river's  flowing. 
But  the  wrinkled  earth  still  hangs  at  her  sufficed  breast  like  a 

weary  child,  she  is  unwilling  to  go  while  she  still  has  milk  for 

the  earth. 

She  will  go  in  her  sleep,  most  likely,  she  has  the  sunk  death-pleep 

of  the  old  already, 
(War-bugles  by  the  Potomac,  you  cannot  reach  her  ears  with 

your  brass  lyric,  piercing  the  crowded  dark.) 
It  does  not  matter,  the  farm  will  go  on,  the  farm  and  the  children 

bury  her  in  her  best  dress,  the  plow  cut  its  furrow,  steady, 
(War-horses  of  the  Shenandoah,  why  should  you  hurry  so  fast 

to  tramp  the  last  ashy  fire  from  so  feeble  and  retired  a  spark?) 


There  is  nothing  here  but  a  creek  and  a  house  called  the  Henry 
House,  a  farm  and  a  bedridden  woman  and  people  with  coun- 
try faces. 

There  is  nothing  for  you  here.  And  La  Haye  Sainte  was  a  quiet 
farm  and  the  mile  by  it  a  quiet  mile. 

And  Lexington  was  a  place  to  work  in  like  any  one  of  a  dozen 
dull,  little  places. 

And  they  raised  good  crops  at  Blenheim  till  the  soldiers  came 
and  spoiled  the  crops  for  a  while. 

The  red  evening  fades  into  twilight,  the  crows  have  gone  to 

their  trees,  the  slow,  hot  stars  are  emerging. 
It  is  cooler  now  on  the  hill—and  in  the  camps  it  is  cooler,  where 

the  untried  soldiers  find  their  bivouac  hard. 
Where,  from  North  and  South,  the  blind  wrestlers  of  armies 

converge  on  the  forgotten  house  like  the  double  pincers  of  an 

iron  claw  converging. 
And  Johnston  hurries  his  tired  brigades  from  the  Valley,  to 

bring  them  up  in  time  before  McDowell  can  fall  on  Beauregard. 

The  congressmen  came  out  to  see  Bull  Run, 

The  congressmen  who  like  free  shows  and  spectacles. 

They  brought  their  wives  and  carriages  along, 

They  brought  their  speeches  and  their  picnic-lunch, 

Their  black  constituent-hats  and  their  devotion: 

Some  even  brought  a  little  whiskey,  too, 

(A  little  whiskey  is  a  comforting  thing 

For  congressmen  in  the  sun,  in  the  heat  of  the  sun.) 

The  bearded  congressmen  with  orator's  mouths, 

The  fine,  clean-shaved,  Websterian  congressmen, 

Come  out  to  see  the  gladiator's  show 

Like  Iliad  gods,  wrapped  in  the  sacred  cloud 

Of  Florida-water,  wisdom  and  bay-rum, 

Of  free  cigars,  democracy  and  votes, 

That  lends  such  portliness  to  congressmen. 

(The  gates  fly  wide,  the  bronze  troop  marches  out 

Into  the  stripped  and  deadly  circus-ring, 

"Ave,  Caesar!"  the  cry  goes  up,  and  shakes 

The  purple  awning  over  Caesar's  seat.) 

"Avey  Caesar!  Ave,  O  congressmen, 

We  who  are  about  to  die, 

Salute  you,  congressmen!" 


Eleven  States, 

New  York,  Rhode  Island,  Maine, 

Connecticut,  Michigan  and  the  gathered  West, 

Salute  you,  congressmen! 

The  red-fezzed  Fire-Zouaves,  flamingo-bright, 

Salute  you,  congressmen! 

The  raw  boys  still  in  their  civilian  clothes, 

Salute  you,  congressmen! 

The  second  Wisconsin  in  its  homespun  grey, 

Salutes  you,  congressmen! 

The  Garibaldi  Guards  in  cocksfeather  hats, 

Salute  you,  congressmen! 

The  Second  Ohio  with  their  Bedouin-caps, 

Salutes  you,  congressmen! 

Sherman's  brigade,  grey-headed  Heintzelman, 

Ricketts'  and  Griffin's  doomed  and  valiant  guns, 

The  tough,  hard-bitten  regulars  of  Sykes 

Who  covered  the  retreat  with  the  Marines, 

Burnside  and  Porter,  Willcox  and  McDowell, 

All  the  vast,  unprepared,  militia-mass 

Of  boys  in  red  and  yellow  Zouave  pants, 

Who  carried  peach-preserves  inside  their  kits 

And  dreamt  of  being  generals  overnight; 

The  straggling  companies  where  every  man 

Was  a  sovereign  and  a  voter— the  slack  regiments 

Where  every  company  marched  a  different  step; 

The  clumsy  and  unwieldy-new  brigades 

Not  yet  distempered  into  battle-worms; 

The  whole,  huge,  innocent  army,  ready  to  fight 

But  only  half-taught  in  the  tricks  of  fighting, 

Ready  to  die  like  picture-postcard  boys 

While  fighting  still  had  banners  and  a  sword 

And  just  as  ready  to  run  in  blind  mob-panic, 

Salutes  you  with  a  vast  and  thunderous  cry, 

Ave,  Caesar,  ave,  O  Congressmen,     • 

Ave,  O  Iliad  gods  who  forced  the  fight! 

You  bring  your  carriages  and  your  picnic-lunch 

To  cheer  us  in  our  need. 

You  come  with  speeches, 
Your  togas  smell  of  heroism  and  bay^rum. 
You  are  the  people  and  the  voice  of  the  people 
And,  when  the  fight  is  done,  your  carnages 


Will  bear  you  safely,  through  the  streaming  rout 
Of  broken  troops,  throwing  their  guns  away. 
You  come  to  see  the  gladiator's  show, 
But  from  a  high  place,  as  befits  the  wise: 
You  will  not  see  the  long  windrows  of  men 
Strewn  like  dead  pears  before  the  Henry  House 
Or  the  stone- wall  of  Jackson  breathe  its  parched 
Devouring  breath  upon  the  failing  charge, 
Ave,  Caesar,  ave,  O  congressmen, 
Cigar-smoke  wraps  you  in  a  godlike  cloud, 
And  if  you  are  not  to  depart  from  us 
As  easily  and  divinely  as  you  came, 
It  hardly  matters. 

Fighting  Joe  Hooker  once 
Said  with  that  tart,  unbridled  tongue  of  his 
That  made  so  many  needless  enemies, 
"Who  ever  saw  a  dead  cavalryman?" 

The  phrase 

Stings  with  a  needle  sharpness,  just  or  not, 
But  even  he  was  never  heard  to  say, 
"Who  ever  saw  a  dead  congressman?" 
And  yet,  he  was  a  man  with  a  sharp  tongue. 

The  day  broke,  hot  and  calm.  In  the  little  farm-houses 

That  are  scattered  here  and  there  in  that  rolling  country 

Of  oak  and  rail-fence,  crooked  creeks  and  second-growth  pine, 

The  early-risers  stand  looking  out  of  the  door 

At  the  long  dawn-shadows  for  a  minute  or  two 

—Shadows  are  always  cool— but  the  blue-glass  sky 

Is  fusing  with  heat  even  now,  heat  that  prickles  the  hairs 

On  the  back  of  your  hand. 

They  sigh  and  turn  back  to  the  house. 
"Looks  like  a  scorcher  today,  boys!" 

They  think  already 
Of  the  cool  jug  of  vinegar-water  down  by  the  hedge. 

Judith  Henry  wakened  with  the  first  light, 

She  had  the  short  sleep  of  age,  and  the  long  patience. 

She  waited  for  breakfast  in  vague,  half-drowsy  wonderment 

At  various  things.  Yesterday  some  men  had  gone  by 

And  stopped  for  a  drink  of  water.  She'd  heard  they  were  soldiers. 


She  couldn't,  be  sure.  It  had  seemed  to  worry  the  folks 
But  it  took  more  than  soldiers  and  such  to  worry  her  now. 
Young  people  always  worried  a  lot  too  much. 
No  soldiers  that  had  any  sense  would  fight  around  here. 
She'd  had  a  good  night.  Today  would  be  a  good  day. 

A  mile  and  a  half  away,  before  the  Stone  Bridge, 
A  Union  gun  opened  fire. 

Six  miles  away,  McDowell  had  planned  his  battle 

And  planned  it  well,  as  far  as  such  things  can  be  planned— 

A  feint  at  one  point,  a  flanking  march  at  another 

To  circle  Beauregard's  left  and  crumple  it  up. 

There  were  Johnston's  eight  thousand  men  to  be  reckoned  with 

But  Patterson  should  be  holding  them,  miles  away, 

And  even  if  they  slipped  loose  from  Patterson's  fingers 

The  thing  might  still  be  done. 

If  you  take  a  flat  map 

And  move  wooden  blocks  upon  it  strategically, 
The  thing  looks  well,  the  blocks  behave  as  they  should. 
The  science  of  war  is  moving  live  men  like  blocks. 
And  getting  the  blocks  into  place  at  a  fixed  moment. 
But  it  takes  time  to  mold  your  men  into  blocks 
And  flat  maps  turn  into  country  where  creeks  and  gullies 
Hamper  your  wooden  squares.  They  stick  in  the  brush, 
They  are  tired  and  rest,  they  straggle  after  ripe  blackberries, 
And  you  cannot  lift  them  up  in  your  hand  and  move  them. 
—A  string  of  blocks  curling  smoothly  around  the  left 
Of  another  string  of  blocks  and  crunching  it  up— 
It  is  all  so  clear  in  the  maps,  so  clear  in  the  mind, 
But  the  orders  are  slaw,  the  men  in  the  blocks  are  slow 
To  move,  when  they  start  they  take  too  long  on  the  way— 
The  General  loses  his  stars  and  the  block-men  die 
In  unstrategic  defiance  of  martial  law 
Because  still  used  to  just  being  men,  not  block-parts. 
McDowell  was  neither  a  fool  nor  a  fighting  fool; 
He  knew  his  dice,  he  knew  both  armies  unready, 
But  congressmen  and  nation  wanted  a  battle 
And  he  felt  their  hands  on  his  shoulders,  forcing  his  play. 


He  knew  well  enough  when  he  played  that  he  played  for  his  head 

As  Beauregard  and  Johnston  were  playing  for  theirs, 

So  he  played  with  the  skill  he  had— and  does  not  lie 

Under  a  cupolaed  gloom  on  Riverside  Drive. 

Put  Grant  in  his  place  that  day  and  with  those  same  dice, 

Grant  might  have  done  little  better. 

Wherefore,  now, 

Irvin  McDowell,  half-forgotten  general, 
Who  tried  the  game  and  found  no  luck  in  the  game 
And  never  got  the  chance  to  try  it  again 

But  did  not  backbite  the  gamblers  who  found  more  luck  in  it 
Then  or  later  in  double-edged  reminiscences; 
If  any  laurel  can  grow  in  the  sad-colored  fields 
Between  Bull  Run  and  Cub  Run  and  Cat  Hairpin  Bend 
You  should  have  a  share  of  it  for  your  hardworking  ghost 
Because  you  played  as  you  could  with  your  cold,  forced  dice 
And  neither  wasted  your  men  like  the  fighting  fools 
Nor  posed  as  an  injured  Napoleon  twenty  years  later. 
Meanwhile,  McDowell  watched  his  long  flanking  column 
File  by,  on  the  Warrentown  pike,  in  the  first  dawn-freshness. 
"Gentlemen,  that's  a  big  force,"  he  said  to  his  staff. 

A  full  rifled  battery  begins  to  talk  spitefully  to  Evans'  Caro- 
linians. The  grey  skirmish-line,  thrown  forward  on  the  other 
side  of  Bull  Run,  ducks  its  head  involuntarily  as  a  locomotive 
noise  goes  by  in  the  air  above  it,  and  waits  for  a  flicker  of  blue 
in  the  scrub-oaks  ahead. 

Beauregard,  eager  sabreur,  whose  heart  was  a  French 
Print  of  a  sabretasche-War  with  "La  Gloire"  written  under  it, 
Lovable,  fiery,  bizarre,  picturesque  as  his  name, 
Galloped  toward  Mitchell's  Ford  with  bald,  quiet  Joe  Johnston, 
The  little  precise  Scotch-dominie  of  a  general, 
Stubborn  as  flint,  in  advance  not  always  so  lucky, 
In  retreat  more  dangerous  than  a  running  wolf- 
Slant  shadow,  sniffing  the  traps  and  the  poisoned  meat, 
And  going  on  to  pause  and  slash  at  the  first 
Unwary  dogs  before  the  hunters  came  up. 
Grant  said  of  him  once, 


"I  was  always  anxious  with  Joe  Johnston  in  front  of  me, 

I  was  never  half  so  anxious  in  front  of  Lee." 

He  kissed  his  friends  in  the  Nelson-way  weVe  forgotten, 

He  could  make  men  cheer  him  after  six-weeks  retreating. 

Another  man  said  of  him,  after  the  war  was  done, 

Still  with  that  puzzled  comparison  we  find 

When  Lee,  the  reticent  sword,  comes  into  the  question, 

"Yes,  Lee  was  a  great  general,  a  good  man; 

But  I  never  wanted  to  put  my  arms  round  his  neck 

As  I  used  to  want  to  with  Johnston."- 

The  two  sayings 

Make  a  good  epitaph  for  so  Scotch  a  ghost, 
Or  would  if  they  were  all 

They  are  not  quite  all, 
He  had  to  write  his  reminiscences,  too, 
And  tell  what  he  would  have  done  if  it  had  not  been 
For  Davis  and  chance  and  a  dozen  turns  of  the  wheel. 
That  was  the  thistle  in  him— the  other  strain- 
But  he  was  older  then. 

I'd  like  to  have  seen  him 
That  day  as  he  galloped  along  beside  Beauregard, 
Sabreur  and  dominie  planning  the  battle-lines. 
They'd  ordered  Jackson  up  to  the  threatened  left 
But  Beauregard  was  sure  that  the  main  assault 
Would  come  on  the  right.  He'd  planned  it  so— a  good  plan- 
But  once  the  blocks  start  moving,  they  keep  on  moving. 

The  hands  of  the  scuffed  brown  clock  in  the  kitchen  of  the 

Henry  House  point  to  nine-forty-five. 
Judith  Henry  does  not  hear  the  clock,  she  hears  in  the  sky  a 

vast  dim  roar  like  piles  of  heavy  lumber  crashingly  falling. 
They  are  carrying  her  in  her  bed  to  a  ravine  below  the  Sudley 

Road,  maybe  she  will  be  safe  there,  maybe  the  battle  will  go 

by  and  leave  her  alive. 
The  crows  have  been  scared  from  their  nests  by  the  strange 

crashing,  they  circle  in  the  sky  like  a  flight  of  blackened  leaves, 

wheeling  and  calling. 

Back  at  Centerville,  there  are  three-months'  men, 
A  Pennsylvania  regiment,  a  New  York  Battery. 

They  hear  the  spent  wave  of  the  roar  of  the  opening  guns, 
But  they  are  three-months'  men,  their  time  is  up  today. 
They  would  have  fought  yesterday  or  a  week  ago, 
But  then  they  were  still  enlisted—today  they  are  not— 
Their  time  is  up,  and  there  can't  be  much  use  or  sense 
In  fighting  longer  than  youVe  promised  to  fight. 
They  pack:  up  their  things  and  decide  they'd  better  go  home, 
And  quietly  march  away  from  that  gathering  roar. 

Luke  Breckinridge,  crouched  by  the  Warrentown  pike, 
Saw  stuffed  dolls  in  blue  coats  and  baggy  trousers 
Go  down  like  squirrels  under  the  rifle-cracks. 
His  eyes  glowed  as  a  bullet  ripped  his  sleeve 
And  he  felt  well.  Armies  weren't  such  a  much, 
Too  damn  many  orders,  too  damn  much  saluting, 
Too  many  damn  officers  you  weren't  allowed 
To  shoot  when  they  talked  mean  to  you  because 
They  were  your  officers,  which  didn't  make  sense. 
But  this  was  something  he  could  understand, 
Except  for  those  dirty  stinkers  of  big  guns, 
It  wasn't  right  to  shoot  you  with  big  guns 
But  it  was  a  good  scrap  except  for  that- 
Carried  a  little  high,  then  .  .  .  change  it ...  good  . .  . 
Though  men  were  hard  to  miss  when  you  were  used 
To  squirrels.  His  eyes  were  narrow.  He  hardly  heard 
The  officer's  voice.  The  woods  in  front  of  him 
Were  full  of  Kelceys  he  was  going  to  kill, 
Blue-coated  Kelcey  dolls  in  baggy  trousers. 
It  was  a  beautiful  and  sufficing  sight. 

The  first  blue  wave  of  Burnside  is  beaten  back  from  the  pike  to 
stumble  a  little  way  and  rally  against  Porter's  fresh  brigade. 

Bee  and  Bartow  move  down  from  the  Henry  House  plateau- 
grey  and  butternut  lines  trampling  the  bullet-cut  oatc-leaves, 
splashing  across  Young's  Branch. 

Tall,  black-bearded  Bee  rides  by  on  his  strong  horse,  his  long 
black  hair  fluttering. 

Imboden's  red-shirted  gunners  unlimber  by  the  Henry  House 


to  answer  the  Parrotts  and  howitzers  of  Ricketts  and  Griffin. 
The  air  is  a  sheet  of  iron,  continually  and  dully  shaken. 

Shippy,  the  little  man  with  the  sharp  rat-eyes, 
Saw  someone  run  in  front  of  them  waving  a  sword; 
Then  they  were  going  along  toward  a  whining  sound 
That  ran  like  cold  spring-water  along  his  spine. 
God,  he  was  in  for  it  now!  His  sharp  rat-eyes 
Flickered  around  and  about  him  hopelessly. 
If  a  fellow  could  only  drop  out,  if  a  fellow  could  only 
Pretend  he  was  hurt  a  little  and  then  drop  out 
Behind  a  big,  <safe  oak-tree—no  use— no  use- 
He  was  in  for  it,  now.  He  couldn't  get  away. 
"Come  on,  boys— come  on,  men— clean  them  out  with  the 


He  saw  a  rail-fence  ahead,  a  quiet  rail-fence, 
But  men  were  back  of  it— grey  lumps— a  million  bees 
Stinging  the  air— Oh  Jesus,  the*  corporal's  got  it- 
He  couldn't  shoot,  even— he  w£s  too  scared  to  shoot- 
Bis  legs  took  him  on— he  couldn't  stop  his  legs 
Or  the  weak  urine  suddenly  trickling  down  them. 

Curly  Hatton,  toiling  along  the  slow 

Crest  of  the  Henry  Hill,  over  slippery  ground, 

Glanced  at  the  still-blue  sky  that  lay  so  deep 

Above  the  little  pines,  so  pooled,  so  calm. 

He  thought,  with  the  slow  drowsiness  of  fatigue, 

Of  Lucy  feeding  the  white,  greedy  swans 

On  the  blue  pool  by  Weatherby's  Retreat. 

They  stretched  their  necks,  and  clattered  with  their  wings. 

There  was  a  fragrante  sleeping  in  her  hair. 

"Close  up,  folks—don't  straggle— we're  going  into  action!" 

His  butterball-legs  moved  faster-Lucy— Lucy- 

Bee  and  Bartow's  brigades  are  broken  in  their  turn— it  is  fight 
and  run  away-fight  and  run  away,  all  day-the  day  will  go  to 


whichever  of  the  untried  wrestlers  can  bear  the  pain  of  the  grips 
an  instant  longer  than  the  other. 

Beauregard  and  Johnston  hurry  toward  the  firing— McDowell 
has  already  gone— 

The  chessplayers  have  gone  back  to  little  pieces  on  the  shaken 
board— little  pieces  that  cannot  see  the  board  as  a  whole. 

The  block-plan  is  lost— there  is  no  plan  any  more— only  the 
bloodstained,  fighting  blocks,  the  bloodstained  and  blackened 

Jack  Ellyat  heard  the  guns  with  a  knock  at  his  heart 

When  he  first  heard  them.  They  were  going  to  be  in  it,  soon. 

He  wondered  how  it  would  feel.  They  would  win,  of  course, 

But  how  would  it  feel?  He'd  never  killed  anything  much. 

Ducks  and  rabbits,  but  ducks  and  rabbits  weren't  men. 

He'd  never  even  seen  a  man  killed,  a  man  die, 

Except  Uncle  Amos,  and  Uncle  Amos  was  old. 

He  saw  a  red  sop  spreading  across  the  close 

Feathers  of  a  duck's  breast— it  had  been  all  right, 

But  now  it  made  him  feel  sick  for  a  while,  somehow. 

Then  they  were  down  on  the  ground,  and  they  were  firing, 

And  that  was  all  right— just  fire  as  you  fired  at  drill. 

Was  anyone  firing  at  them?  He  couldn't  tell. 

There  was  a  stone  bridge.  Were  there  rebels  beyond  the  bridge? 

The  shot  he  was  firing  now  might  go  and  kill  rebels 

But  it  didn't  feel  like  it. 

A  man  down  the  line 

Fell  and  rolled  flat,  with  a  minor  coughing  sound 
And  then  was  quiet.  Ellyat  felt  the  cough 
In  the  pit  of  his  stomach  a  minute. 
But,  after  that,  it  was  just  like  a  man  falling  down. 
It  was  all  so  calm  except  for  their  guns  and  the  distant 
Shake  in  the  air  of  cannon.  No  more  men  were  hit, 
And,  after  a  while,  they  all  got  up  and  marched  on. 
If  Rebels  had  been  by  the  bridge,  the  rebels  were  gone, 
And  they  were  going  on  somewhere,  you  couldn't  say  where, 
Just  marching  along  the  way  that  they  always  did. 
The  only  funny  thing  was,  leaving  the  man 
Who  had  made  that  cough,  back  there  in  the  trampled  grass 
With  the  red  stain  sopping  through  the  blue  of  his  coat 


Like  the  stain  on  a  duck's  breast.  He  hardly  knew  the  man 
But  it  felt  funny  to  leave  him  just  lying  there. 

The  wreckage  of  Bee,  Bartow  and  Evans*  commands  streams 
back  into  a  shallow  ravine  below  a  little  wood— broken  blocks 
hammered  into  splinters  by  war— two  thousand  confused  men 
reeling  past  their  staggering  flags  and  the  hoarse  curses  and 
rallying  cries  of  their  officers,  like  sheep  in  a  narrow  run. 

Bee  tries  to  halt  them  furiously— he  stands  up  in  his  stirrups, 
tree-tall,  while  the  blue  flood  of  the  North  trickles  over  the 
stream  and  pours  on  and  on. 

He  waves  his  sword— the  toyish  glitter  sparkles— he  points  to 
a  grey  dyke  at  the  top  of  the  ravine— a  grey  dyke  of  musket- 
holding  Virginians,  silent  and  ready. 

"Look,  men,  there's  Jackson's  brigade!  It  stands  there  like  a 
stone  wall.  Rally  behind  the  Virginians!" 

They  rally  behind  them— Johnston  and  Beauregard  are  there 
—the  Scotch  dominie  plucks  a  flag  and  carries  it  forward  to 
rally  the  Fourth  Alabama— the  French  hussar-sword  rallies  them 
with  bursting  rockets  of  oratory— his  horse  is  shot  under  him, 
but  he  mounts  again. 

And  the  grey  stone  wall  holds  like  a  stiff  dyke  while  the  tired 
men  get  their  breath  behind  it— and  the  odd,  lemon-sucking, 
ex-professor  of  tactics  who  saw  John  Brown  hung  in  his  carpet- 
slippers  and  prayed  a  Presbyterian  prayer  for  his  damned  soul, 
has  a  new  name  that  will  last  as  long  as  the  face  they  cut  for 
him  on  Stone  Mountain,  and  has  the  same  clang  of  rock  against 
the  chisel-blade. 

Judith  Henry,  Judith  Henry,  they  have  moved  you  back  at 
last,  in  doubt  and  confusion,  to  the  little  house  where 
you  know  every  knothole  by  heart. 

It  is  not  safe,  but  now  there  is  no  place  safe,  you  are  between  the 
artillery  and  the  artillery,  and  the  incessant  noise  comes 
to  your  dim  ears  like  the  sea-roar  within  a  shell  where 
you  are  lying. 

The  walls  of  the  house  are  riddled,  the  brown  clock  in  the  kitchen 
gouged  by  a  bullet,  a  jar  leaks  red  preserves  on  the  cup- 
board shelf  where  the  shell-splinter  came  and  tore  the 
cupboard  apart. 


The  casual  guns  do  not  look  for  you,  Judith  Henry,  they  find 
you  in  passing  merely  and  touch  you  only  a  little,  but  the 
touch  is  enough  to  give  your  helpless  body  five  sudden 
wounds  and  leave  you  helplessly  dying. 

Wingate  gentled  Black  Whistle's  pawing 

With  hand  and  wisdom  and  horseman's  play 

And  listened  anew  to  the  bulldogs  gnawing 

Their  bone  of  iron,  a  mile  away. 

There  was  a  wood  that  a  bonfire  crowned 

With  thick  dark  smoke  without  flame  for  neighbor, 

And  the  dull,  monotonous,  heavy  sound 

Of  a  hill  or  a  woman  in  too-long  labor, 

But  that  was  all  for  the  Black  Horse  Troop 

And  had  been  all  since  the  day's  beginning, 

That  stray  boy  beating  his  metal  hoop 

And  the  tight-lipped  wonder  if  they  were  winning. 

Wainscott  Bristol,  behind  his  eyes, 

Was  getting  in  bed  with  a  sweet-toothed  wench, 

Huger  Shepley  felt  for  his  dice 

And  Stuart  Cazenove  swore  in  French 

"Mille  diables  and  Yankee  blood! 

How  long  are  we  going  to  stick  in  the  mud?" 

While  a  Cotter  hummed  with  a  mocking  sigh, 

"  'If  you  want  a  good  time,  jine  the  cavalry!'  " 

"Stuart's  in  it,  Wade  Hampton's  in  it." 

"The  Yanks'll  quit  in  another  minute!" 

"General  Beau's  just  lost  us!" 


"And  he  won't  find  us  until  he's  ready!" 
"It  must  be  two—we've  been  here  since  six." 
"It's  Virginia  up  to  her  old-time  tricks! 
They  never  diet  trust  a  Georgia  man, 
But  Georgia'll  fight  while  Virginia  can!" 

The  restless  talk  was  a  simmering  brew 
That  made  the  horses  restless  too; 
They  stamped  and  snuffled  and  pricked  their  ears- 
There  were  cheers,  off  somewhere— but  which  side's  cheers? 
Had  the  Yankees  whipped?  Were  the  Yankees  breaking? 

The  whole  troop  grumbled  and  wondered,  aching 

For  fighting  or  neeing  or  fornicating 

Or  anything  else  except  this  bored  waiting. 

An  aide  rode  up  on  a  sweating  mare 

And  they  glowered  at  him  with  hostile  stare. 

He  had  been  in  it  and  they  had  not. 

He  had  smelt  the  powder  and  heard  the  shot, 

And  they  hated  his  soul  and  his  martial  noise 

With  the  envious  hate  of  little  boys. 

Then  "Yaaih!  Yaaih!" 

—and  Wingate  felt 

The  whole  troop  lift  like  a  lifted  dart 
And  loosened  the  sabre  at  his  belt, 
And  felt  his  chest  too  small  for  his  heart. 

Curly  Hatton  was  nothing  any  more 

But  a  dry  throat  and  a  pair  of  burnt  black  hands 

That  held  a  hot  gun  he  was  always  firing 

Though  he  no  longer  remembered  why  he  fired. 

They  ran  up  a  cluttered  hill  and  took  hacked  ground 

And  held  it  for  a  while  and  fired  for  a  while, 

And  then  the  blue  men  came  and  they  ran  away, 

To  go  back,  after  a  while,  when  the  blue  men  ran. 

There  was  a  riddled  house  and  a  crow  in  a  tree, 

There  was  uneven  ground.  It  was  hard  to  run. 

The  gun  was  heavy  and  hot.  There  once  had  been 

A  person  named  Lucy  and  a  flag  and  a  star 

And  a  cane  chair  beside  wistarias 

Where  a  nigger  brought  you  a  drink.  These  had  cea?ed  to  exist 

There  was  only  very  hot  sun  and  being  thirsty. 

Yells—crashings— screams  from  black  lips— a  dead,  tattered  crow 

In  a  tattered  tree.  There  had  once  been  a  person  named  Lucy 

Who  had  had  an  importance.  There  was  none  of  her  now. 

Up  the  hill  again.  Damn  tired  of  running  up  hill. 
And  then  he  found  he  couldn't  run  any  more, 
He  had  to  fall  down  and  be  sick.  Even  that  was  hard, 
Because  somebody  near  kept  making  a  squealing  noise— 
The  dolefully  nasty  noise  of  a  badly-hurt  dog. 


It  got  on  his  nerves'and  he  tried  to  say  something  to  it, 
But  it  was  he  who  made  it,  so  he  couldn't  stop  it. 

Jack  Ellyat,  going  toward  the  battle  again, 

Saw  the  other  side  of  the  hill  where  Curly  was  lying, 

Saw,  for  a  little  while,  the  two  battered  houses, 

The  stuffed  dead  stretched  in  numb,  disorderly  postures, 

And  heard  for  a  while  again  that  whining  sound 

That  made  you  want  to  duck,  and  feel  queer  if  you  did. 

To  him  it  was  .noise  and  smoke  and  the  powder-taste 

And,  once  and  again,  through  the  smoke,  for  a  moment  seen, 

Small,  monstrous  pictures,  gone  through  the  brain  like  light, 

And  yet  forever  bitten  into  the  brain; 

A  marsh,  a  monstrous  arras  of  live  and  dead 

Still  shaking  under  the  thrust  of  the  weaver's  hand, 

The  crowd  of  a  deadly  fair. 

Then,  orders  again. 
And  they  were  going  away  from  the  smoke  once  more. 

The  books  say  "Keyes'  brigade  made  a  late  and  weak 
Demonstration  in  front  of  the  Robinson  house 
And  then  withdrew  to  the  left,  by  flank,  down  Young's  Branch, 
Taking  no  further  part  in  the  day." 

To  Jack  Ellyat 

It  was  a  deadly  fair  in  a  burning  field 
Where  strange  crowds  rushed  to  and  fro  and  strange  drunkards 


Sprawled  in  a  stupor  deeper  than  wine  or  sleep, 
A  whining  noise  you  shrank  from  and  wanted  to  duck  at, 
And  one  dead  cough  left  behind  them  in  the  tall  grass 
With  the  slow  blood  sopping  its  clothes  like  the  blood  on  a  shot 

duck's  breast. 

Imboden  is  wounded,  Jackson  is  shot  through  the  hand,  the 
guns  of  Ricketts  and  Griffin,  on  the  Henry  House  plateau,  are 
taken  and  retaken;  the  gunners  shot  down  at  their  guns  while 
they  hold  their  fire,  thinking  the  advancing  Thirty-Third  Vir- 
ginia is  one  of  their  own  regiments,  in  the  dimness  of  the  battle- 


It  is  nearly  three  o'clock— the  South  gathers  for  a  final  charge 
—on  the  left,  Elzey's  brigade,  new-come  from  the  Shenandoah, 
defiles  through  the  oaks  near  the  Sudley  Road  to  reinforce  the 
grey  wrestler—the  blue  wrestler  staggers  and  goes  back,  on 
unsteady  heels. 

The  charge  sweeps  the  plateau— Bartow  is  killed,  black-haired 
Bee  mortally  wounded,  but  the  charge  goes  on. 

For  a  moment,  the  Union  line  is  a  solid  crescent  again— a 
crescent  with  porcupine-pricks  of  steel— and  then  a  crescent  of 
sand— and  then  spilt  sand,  streaming  away. 

There  is  no  panic  at  first.  There  is  merely  a  moment  when 
men  have  borne  enough  and  begin  to  go  home.  The  panic  comes 
later,  when  they  start  to  jostle  each  other. 

Jefferson  Davis,  riding  from  Manassas,  reaches  the  back-wash 
of  the  battle.  A  calm  grey-bearded  stranger  tells  him  calmly 
that  the  battle  is  lost  and  the  South  defeated.  But  he  keeps  on, 
his  weak  eyes  stung  with  the  dust,  a  picture,  perhaps,  of  a  Plutarch 
death  on  a  shield  in  his  schooled  mind— and  is  in  time  to  see  the 
last  blue  troops  disappear  beyond  Bull  Run,  and  hear  the  last 
sour  grumble  of  their  guns. 

Judith  Henry,  Judith  Henry,  your  body  has  born  its  ghost  at 
last,  there  are  no  more  pictures  of  peace  or  terror  left  in  the 
broken  machine  of  the  brain  that  was  such  a  cunning  pic- 

Terrified  ghost,  so  rudely  dishouscd  by  such  casual  violence,  be 

at  rest;  there  are  others  dishoused  in  this  falling  night,  the 

falling  night  is  a  sack  of  darkness,  indifferent  as  Saturn  to 

wars  or  generals,  indifferent  to  shame  or  victory. 
War  is  a  while  but  peace  is  a  while  and  soon  enough  the  earth- 
colored  hands  of  the  earth-workers  will  scoop  the  last  buried 
shells  and  the  last  clotted  bullet-slag  from  the  racked  em- 
bittered acre, 

And  the  rustling  visitors  drive  out  fair  Sundays  to  look  at  the 
monument  near  the  rebuilt  house,  buy  picture  postcards  and 
wonder  dimly  what  you  were  like  when  you  lived  and  what 
you  thought  when  you  knew  you  were  going  to  die. 

Wingate  felt  a  frog  in  his  throat 

As  he  patted  Black  Whistle's  reeking  coat 


And  reined  him  in  for  a  minute's  breath. 

He  was  hot  as  the  devil  and  tired  to  death, 

And  both  were  glad  for  the  sun  in  the  West 

And  a  panting  second  of  utter  rest, 

While  Wingate's  mind  went  patching  together 

Like  a  cobbler  piecing  out  scraps  or  leather 

The  broken  glimmers  of  what  they'd  done 

Since  the  sun  in  the  West  was  a  rising  sun, 

The  long,  bored  hours  of  shiftless  waiting 

And  that  single  instant  of  pure,  fierce  hating 

When  the  Charge  came  down  like  a  cataract 

On  a  long  blue  beach  of  broken  sand 

And  Thought  was  nothing  but  all  was  Act 

And  the  sabre  seemed  to  master  the  hand. 

Wainscott  Bristol,  a  raging  terrier 

Killing  the  Yankee  that  shot  Phil  Ferrier 

With  a  cut  that  spattered  the  bloody  brains 

Over  his  saddle  and  bridle-reins, 

One  Cotter  cursing,  the  other  praying, 

And  both  of  them  slashing  like  scythes  of  slaying, 

Stuart  Cazenove  singing  "Lord  Randall" 

And  Howard  Brooke  as  white  as  a  candle, 

While  Father  fought  like  a  fiend  in  satin, 

And  killed  as  he  quoted  tag-ends  of  Latin, 

The  prisoners  with  their  sick,  dazed  wonder 

And  the  mouths  of  children  caught  in  a  blunder 

And  over  it  all,  the  guns,  the  thunder, 

The  pace,  the  being  willing  to  die, 

The  stinging  color  of  victory. 

He  remembered  it  all  like  a  harsh,  tense  dream. 
It  had  a  color.  It  had  a  gleam. 
But  he  had  outridden  and  lost  the  rest 
And  he  was  alone  with  the  blpody  West 
And  a  trampled  road,  and  a  black  hill-crest. 

The  road  and  the  bushes  all  about 
Were  cluttered  with  relics  of  Yankee  rout, 
Haversacks  spilling  their  shirts  and  socks, 
A  burst  canteen  and  a  cartridge-box. 
Rifles  and  cups  trampled  underfoot, 
A  woman's  locket,  a  slashed  black  boot 


Stained  and  oozing  along  the  slash 
And  a  ripe  pear  crushed  to  a  yellow  mash. 
Who  had  carried  the  locket  and  munched  the  pear, 
And  why  was  a  dead  cat  lying  there, 
Stark  and  grinning,  a  furry  sack, 
With  a  red  flannel  tongue  and  a  broken  back? 
You  didn't  fight  wars  with  a  tabby-cat.  .  .  . 
He  found  he  was  telling  the  Yankees  that, 
They  couldn't  hear  him  of  course,  but  still  . .  . 
He  shut  his  eyes  for  a  minute  until 
He  felt  less  dizzy.  There,  that  was  better, 
And  the  evening  wind  was  chilly  and  keen— 
—He'd  have  to  write  Mother  some  sort  of  letter— 
—He'd  promised  Amanda  a  Yank  canteen, 
But  he  didn't  feel  like  getting  it  here, 
Where  that  dead  cat  snickered  from  ear  to  ear- 
Back  in  the  pinewoods,  clear  and  far, 
A  bugle  sang  like  a  falling  star. 
He  shivered,  turned  Black  Whistle  around 
And  galloped  hastily  toward  the  sound. 

Curly  Hatton  opened  his  eyes  again. 

A  minute  ago  he  had  been  marching,  marching, 

Forever  up  and  down  enormous  hills 

While  his  throat  scratched  with  thirst  and  something  howled- 

But  then  there  was  a  clear  minute— and  he  was  lying 

In  a  long,  crowded,  strangely-churchly  gloom 

Where  lanterns  bobbed  like  marshlights  in  a  swamp 

And  there  was  a  perpetual  rustling  noise 

Of  dry  leaves  stirred  by  a  complaining  wind. 

No,  they  were  only  voices  of  wounded  men. 

"Water.  Water.  Water.  Water.  Water." 

He  heard  the  rain  on  the  roof  and  sucked  his  lips. 

"Water.  Water.  Water.  Water.  Water." 

Oh,  heavy  sluices  of  dark,  sweet,  Summer  rain, 

Pour  down  on  me  and  wash  me  free  again, 

Cleanse  me  of  battles,  make  my  flesh  smell  sweet, 

I  am  so  sick  of  thirst,  so  tired  of  pain, 

So  stale  with  wounds  and  the  heat! 

Somebody  went  by,  a  doctor  with  red  sleeves; 


He  stared  at  the  red  sleeves  and  tried  to  speak 

But  wheij  he  spoke,  he  whispered.  This  was  a  church. 

He  could  see  a  dim  altar  now  and  a  shadow-pulpit. 

He  was  wounded.  They  had  put  the  wounded  men  in  a  church. 

Lucy's  face  came  to  him  a  minute  and  then  dissolved, 

A  drowned  face,  ebbing  away  with  a  smile  on  its  mouth. 

He  had  meant  to  marry  that  face  in  another  church. 

But  he  was  dying  instead.  It  was  strange  to  die. 

All  night  from  the  hour  of  three,  the  dead  man's  hour,  the  rain 
falls  in  heavy  gusts,  in  black  irresistible  streams  as  if  the  whole 

sky  were  falling  in  one  wet  huddle. 

All  night,  living  and  dead  sleep  under  it,  without  moving,  on 

the  neld;  the  surgeons  work  in  the  church;  the  wounded  moan; 

the  dissevered  fragments  of  companies  and  regiments  look 

for  each  other,  trying  to  come  together. 

In  the  morning,  when  the  burial-parties  go  out,  the  rain  is  still 

falling,  damping  the  powder  of  the  three  rounds  fired  over  the 

grave;  before  the  grave  is  well-dug,  the  bottom  of  the  grave 

is  a  puddle. 

All  day  long  the  Southern  armies  bury  their  dead  to  the  sodden 
drums  of  the  rain;  all  day  the  bugle  calls  a  hoarse-throated 
"Taps";  the  bugler  lets  the  water  run  from  his  bugle- 
mouth  and  wipes  it  clean  again  and  curses  the  rainy 
weather.  , 

All  night  the  Union  army  fled  in  retreat 

Like  horses  scared  by  a  shadow— a  stumbling  flood 

Of  panicky  men  who  had  been  brave  for  a  while 

And  might  be  brave  again  on  another  day 

But  now  were  merely  children  chased  by  the  night 

And  each  man  tainting  his  neighbor  with  the  same 

Blind  fear. 

When  men  or  horses  begin  to  run 
Like  that,  they  keep  on  running  till  they  tire  out 
Unless  a  strong  hand  masters  a  bridle-rein. 
Here  there  was  no  hand  to  master,  no  rein  to  clutch, 
Where  the  riderless  horses  kicked  their  way  through  the  crowd 
And  the  congressmen's  carriages  choked  Cat  Hairpin  Bend. 
Sykes  and  the  regulars  covered  the  retreat, 
And  a  few  brigades  were  kept  in  some  sort  of  order, 
But  the  rest— They  tried  to  stop  them  at  Centerville. 


McDowell  and  his  tired  staff  held  a  haggard  conference. 
But  before  the  officers  could  order  retreat 
The  men  were  walking  away. 

They  had  fought  and  lost. 

They  were  going  to  Washington,  they  were  going  back 
To  their  tents  and  their  cooking-fires  and  their  letters  from  Susie. 
They  were  going  back  home  to  Maine  or  Vermont  or  Ohio, 
And  they  didn't  care  who  knew  it,  and  that  was  that. 

Meanwhile,  on  the  battlefield,  Johnston  and  Beauregard, 

Now  joined  by  the  dusty  Davis,  found  themselves 

As  dazed  by  their  victory  as  their  foes  by  defeat. 

They  had  beaten  one  armed  mob  with  another  armed  mob 

And  Washington  was  theirs  for  the  simple  act 

Of  stretching  a  hand  to  the  apple  up  on  the  bough, 

If  they  had  known.  But  they  could  not  know  it  then. 

They  too  saw  spectres— unbroken  Union  reserves 

Moving  to  cut  their  supply-line  near  Manassas. 

They  called  back  the  pursuit,  such  scattered  pursuit  as  it  was. 

Their  men  were  tired  and  disordered.  The  chance  went  by 

While  only  the  stiff-necked  Jackson  saw  it  clear 

As  a  fighting-psalm  or  a  phrase  in  Napoleon's  tactics. 

He  said  to  the  surgeon  who  was  binding  his  wound, 

With  a  taciturn  snap,  "Give  me  ten  thousand  fresh  troops 

And  I  will  be  in  Washington  by  tomorrow." 

But  they  could  not  give  him  the  troops  while  there  yet  was  time. 

He  had  three  days'  rations  cooked  for  the  Stonewall  Brigade 

And  dourly  awaited  the  order  that  never  came. 

He  had  always  been  at  God's  orders,  and  God  had  used  him 

As  an  instrument  in  winning  a  certain  fight. 

Now,  if  God  saw  fit  to  give  him  the  men  and  guns, 

He  would  take  Washington  for  the  glory  of  God. 

If  He  didn't,  it  was  God's  will  and  not  to  be  questioned. 

Meanwhile  he  could  while  the  hours  of  waiting  away 
By  seeing  the  Stonewall  Brigade  was  properly  fed, 
Endeavoring,  with  that  rigid  kindness  of  his 
To  show  Imboden  his  error  in  using  profanity 
-In  the  heat  of  battle  many  things  might  be  excused, 
But  nothing  excused  profanity,  even  then— 
And  writing  his  Pastor  at  Lexington  a  letter 
Enclosing  that  check  for  the  colored  Sunday-school 

Which  he'd  promised,  and,  being  busy,  had  failed  to  send. 
There  is  not  one  word  of  Bull  Run  in  all  that  letter 
Except  the  mention  of  "a  fatiguing  day's  service/' 
It  would  not  have  occurred  to  Jackson  there  might  have  been. 

Walt  Whitman,  unofficial  observer  to  the  cosmos,  reads  of  the 
defeat  in  a  Brooklyn  room.  The  scene  rises  before  him,  more  real 
than  the  paper  he  stares  upon.  He  sees  the  defeated  army  pouring 
along  Pennsylvania  Avenue  in  the  drizzling  rain,  a  few  regiments 
in  good  order,  marching  in  silence,  with  lowering  faces— the  rest  a 
drenched,  hungry  mob  that  plods  along  on  blistered  feet  and  falls 
asleep  on  the  stoops  of  houses,  in  vacant  lots,  in  basement-areas 
huddled,  too  tired  to  remember  battle  or  be  ashamed  of  flight. 

Nothing  said—no  cries  or  cheers  from  the  windows,  no  jeers 
from  the  secessionists  in  the  watching  crowd— half  the  crowd  is 
secessionist  at  heart,  even  now,  more  than  ever  now. 

Two  old  women,  white-haired,  stand  all  day  in  the  rain,  giving 
coffee  and  soup  and  bread  to  the  passing  men.  The  tears  stream 
down  their  faces  as  they  cut  the  bread  and  pour  out  the  coffee. 

Whitman  sees  it  all  in  his  mind's  eye— the  tears  of  the  two 
women— the  strange  Jook  on  the  men's  faces,  awake  or  asleep— 
the  dripping,  smoke-colored  rain.  Perplexed  and  deep  in  his  heart, 
something  stirs  and  moves— he  is  each  one  of  them  in  turn— the 
beaten  men,  the  tired  women,  the  boy  who  sleeps  there  quietly 
with  his  musket  still  clutched  tightly  to  him.  The  long  lines  of  a 
poem  begin  to  lash  themselves  against  his  mind,  with  the  lashing 
surge  and  long  thunder  of  Montauk  surf. 

Horace  Greeley  bas  written  Lincoln  an  hysterical  letter— he  has 
not  slept  for  seven  nights- in  New  York,  "on  every  brow  sits 
sullen,  scorching,  black  despair." 

He  was  trumpeting  "On  to  Richmond!"  two  weeks  ago.  But 
then  the  war  was  a  thing  for  an  editorial— a  triumphal  parade  of 
Unionists  over  rebels.  Now  there  has  been  a  battle  and  a  defeat. 
He  pleads  for  an  armistice— a  national  convention— anything  on 
almost  any  terms  to  end  this  war. 

Many  think  as  he  does;  many  fine  words  ring  hollow  as  the 
skull  or  an  orator,  the  skull  of  a  maker  of  war.  They  have  raised 
the  Devil  with  slogans  and  editorials,  but  where  is  the  charm  that 
will  lay  him?  Who  will  bind  the  Devil  aroused? 


Only  Lincoln,  awkwardly  enduring,  confused  by  a  thousand 
counsels,  is  neither  overwhelmed  nor  touched  to  folly  by  the 
madness  that  runs  along  the  streets  like  a  dog  in  August  scared 
of  itself,  scaring  everyone  who  crosses  its  path. 

Defeat  is  a  fact  and  victory  can  be  a  fact.  If  the  idea  is  good, 
it  will  survive  defeat,  it  may  even  survive  the  victory. 

His  huge,  patient,  laborious  hands  start  kneading  the  stuff  of 
the  Union  together  again;  he  gathers  up  the  scraps  and  puts  them 
together;  he  sweeps  the  corners  and  the  cracks  and  patches  to- 
gether the  lost  courage  and  the  rags  of  belief. 

The  dough  didn't  rise  that  time— maybe  it  will  next  time.  God 
must  have  tried  and  discarded  a  lot  of  experiment-worlds  before 
he  got  one  even  good  enough  to  whirl  for  a  minute— it  is  the 
same  with  a  belief,  with  a  cause. 

It  is  wrong  to  talk  of  Lincoln  and  a  star  together— that  old 
rubbed  image  is  a  scrap  of  tinsel,  a  scrap  of  dead  poetry— it  dries 
up  and  blows  away  when  it  touches  a  man.  And  yet  Lincoln  had 
a  star,  if  you  will  have  it  so— and  was  haunted  by  a  prairie-star. 

Down  in  the  South  another  man,  most  unlike  him  but  as  stead- 
fast, is  haunted  by  another  star  that  has  little  to  do  with  tinsel, 
and  the  man  they  call  "Evacuation"  Lee  begins  to  grow  taller  and 
to  cast  a  longer  shadow. 


By  Pittsburg  Landing,  the  turbid  Tennessee 
Sucks  against  black,  soaked  spiles  with  soil-colored  waters. 
That  country  is  huge  and  disorderly,  even  now. 
—This  is  Ellyat's  tune,  this  is  no  tune  but  his— 
Country  of  muddy  rivers,  sombre  and  swollen, 
Country  of  bronze  wild  turkeys  and  catfish-fries 
And  brushpile  landings  going  back  to  the  brush. 
A  province  of  mush  and  milk,  a  half-cleared  forest, 
A  speckled  guinea-cock  that  never  was  cooped 
But  ran  away  to  grow  his  spurs  by  himself. 
Neither  North  nor  South,  but  crunching  a  root  of  its  own 
Between  strong  teeth— perhaps  a  wild-onion-root, 
Perhaps  a  white  stalk  of  arbutus,  hardier  there, 
Than  any  phantom-arbutus  of  Eastern  Springs. 
A  mudsill  man  with  the  river-wash  in  his  ears, 
Munching  the  coarse,  good  meal  of  a  johnny-cake 

Hot  from  the  hob— even  now  it  tastes  of  the  brush, 
The  wilderness,  the  big  lost  star  in  the  pines, 
The  brown  river-dirt,  the  perpetual  river-sound, 
In  spite  of  the  sidewalks,  in  spite  of  the  trolley-cars. 
No  trolley-car-bell  can  drown  that  river-sound, 
Or  take  the  loneliness  out  of  the  lost  moon, 
The  night  too  big  for  a  man,  too  lonesome  and  wide. 
The  vastness  has  been  netted  in  railroad  tracks 
But  it  is  still  vast,  uneasy. 

And  when  the  brief 

Screech  of  the  railway-whistle  stabs  at  the  trees 
That  grow  so  thick,. so  unplanned,  so  untidily  strong 
On  either  side  of  the  two  planned  ribs  of  steel, 
Ghost-steamboats  answer  it  from  the  sucking  brown  water. 
In  Sixty-two,  it  was  shaggy  with  wilderness  still 
For  stretches  and  stretches  of  close-packed  undergrowth, 
Wild  as  a  muskrat,  ignorant  of  the  axe; 
Stretches  and  stretches  where  roughly-chinked  log-cabins, 
Two  shouts  and  a  holler  away  from  the  nearest  neighbors, 
Stood  in  a  wisp  of  open.  All  night  long 
The  cabin-people  heard  the  chant  of  the  trees, 
The  forest,  hewn  away  from  the  painful  clearing 
For  a  day  or  a  year,  with  sweat  and  back-breaking  toil, 
But  waiting  to  come  back,  to  crush  the  crude  house 
And  the  planted  space  with  vines  "and  trailers  of  green, 
To  quench  the  fire  on  the  hearth  with  running  green  saps, 
With  a  chant  of  green,  with  tiny  green  tendrils  curling, 
—This  is  Ellyat's  tune,  this  is  no  tune  but  his— 
The  railway-train  goes  by  with  a  shrill,  proud  scream 
And  the  woman  comes  to  the  door  in  a  butternut  dress 
Hair  tousled  up  in  a  knot  on  the  back  of  her  head, 
A  barefoot  child  at  her  skirt. 

The  train  goes  by. 

They  watch  it  with  a  slow  wonder  that  is  not  pathos 
Nor  heroism  but  merely  a  slow  wonder. 

Jack  Ellyat,  in  camp  above  Pittsburg  Landing, 
Speck  in  Grant's  Army  of  the  Tennessee, 
Thought  of  old  fences  in  Connecticut 
With  a  homesick  mind. 

This  country  was  too  new, 


Too  stragglingly-unplanned,  too  muddy  with  great, 
Uncomfortable  floods,  too  roughly  cut 
With  a  broad  hatchet  out  of  a  hard  tree. 

It  had  seemed  fine  when  he  was  mustered  out 
After  Bull  Run,  to  wear  a  veteran  air, 
And  tell  pink  Ellen  Baker  about  war 
And  how,  as  soon  as  he  could  re-enlist 
He'd  do  it  where  he  got  a  chance  to  fight- 
Wet  mouth  of  tears— he  hadn't  wanted  to  kiss  her 
At  first,  but  it  was  easier  later  on. 
Why  had  he  ever  gone  out  to  Chicago? 
Why  had  he  ever  heard  that  shallow  band 
Whanging  its  brass  along  a  Western  street 
And  run  to  sign  the  muster-roll  again? 
Why  had  he  ever  talked  about  Bull  Run 
To  these  green,  husky  boys  from  Illinois 
And  Iowa,  whose  slang  was  different  slang, 
Who  called  suspenders  galluses  and  swore 
In  the  sharp  pops  of  a  mule-driver's  whip? 
Bull  Run— it  had  impressed  them  for  a  week 
But  then  they  started  to  call  him  "Bull  Run  Jack."  .  • 

Henry  Fairfield  marching  along  with  his  sword, 
All  the  old  company  marching  after  him 
Back  in  McClellan's  army,  back  by  the  known 
Potomac,  back  in  the  safe  and  friendly  East; 
All  the  papers  telling  how  brave  they  were 
And  how,  as  soon  as  the  roads  dried  up  in  the  spring, 
"The  little  Napoleon"  would  hammer  the  South  to  bits 
With  a  blue  thunderbolt. 

And  here  he  was 

A  lost  pea,  spilt  at  random  in  a  lost  war; 
A  Tennessee  war  that  had  no  Tribunes  or  polish 
Where  he  was  the  only  Easterner  in  the  whole 
Strange-swearing  regiment  of  Illinois  farmers, 
Alien  as  Rebels,  and  rough  as  all  outdoors. 

He  wanted  to  get  transferred,  he  wanted  to  be 
Back  with  the  company,  back  with  the  Eastern  voices, 
Back  where  nobody  called  him  "Bull  Run  Jack" 
And  snickered  at  him  for  shaving  every  two  days. 


He'd  written  about  it  and  Father  knew  a  congressman 

But  nothing  would  happen—he'd  never  get  away, 

He'd  stay  being  Bull  Run  Jack  till  the  end  of  the  war 

And  march  through  acres  of  hostile  Tennessee  mud 

Till  his  legs  dropped  off,  and  never  get  to  be  Corporal. 

He  was  sick  of  the  war  and  the  mud  and  the  Western  faces. 

He  hated  the  sight  of  his  Illinois  uniform. 

He  was  sorry  for  himself.  He  felt  with  a  vague 

Soft  blur  of  self-pity  that  he  was  really  quite  brave, 

And  if  people  only  knew,  they'd  do  something  about  it. 

This  is  Ellyat's  tune,  this  is  no  tune  but  his. 

Nine  months  have  passed  since  McDowell  reddened  Bull  Run, 

Nine  strong-hoofed  months,  but  they  have  meant  little  to  Ellyat 

What  means  the  noise  of  the  wind  to  the  dust  in  the  wind? 

But  the  wind  calls  strange  things  out,  calls  strange  men  out, 

A  dozen  pictures  flash  in  front  of  the  eyes 

And  are  gone  in  a  flash— 

rough-bearded  Tecumseh  Sherman, 
Who  had  tried  most  things,  but  being  cursed  with  a  taste 
For  honesty,  had  found  small  luck  in  his  stars; 
Ex-soldier,  banker,  lawyer,  each  in  its  turn, 
Ex-head  of  a  Southern  military-school, 
Untidy  ex-president  of  a  little  horse-railroad; 
Talkative,  nervous,  salty,  Scotch-Irish  fighter, 
High-strung,  quick-tempered,  essentially  modern-minded, 
Stamping  the  length  of  the  dusty  corridors 
Of  a  Western  hotel  with  a  dead  cigar  in  his  teeth, 
Talking  the  war  to  himself,  till  the  word  goes  round 
The  new  general  is  crazy- 
neat,  handsome  McClellan, 
Ex-railroad  president  too,  but  a  better  railroad; 
The  fortunate  youth,  the  highly-modern  boy-wonder, 
The  snapping-eyed,  brisk  banner-salesman  of  war 
With  all  the  salesman's  gifts  and  the  salesman's  ego; 
Great  organizer,  with  that  magnetic  spark 
That  pulls  the  heart  from  the  crowd— and  all  of  it  spoiled 
By  the  Napoleon-complex  that  haunts  such  men. 
There  never  has  been  a  young  banner-salesman  yet 
That  did  not  dream  of  a  certain  little  cocked-hat 
And  feel  it  fit.  McClellan  felt  that  it  fitted. 
—After  a  year  and  a  day,  the  auditors  come, 


Dry  auditors,  going  over  the  books  of  the  company, 
Sad  auditors,  with  groups  of  red  and  black  figures 
That  are  not  moved  by  a  dream  of  precious  cocked  hats. 
And  after  the  auditors  go,  the  board  of  directors 
Decides,  with  a  sigh,  to  do  without  banner-salesmen— 
It  is  safer  to  dream  of  a  rusty  Lincoln  stovepipe. 
That  dream  has  more  patience  in  it. 

And  yet,  years  later, 

Meeting  the  banner-salesman  in  some  cheap  street 
With  the  faded  clippings  of  old  success  in  his  pocket, 
One  cannot  help  feeling  sorry  for  the  cocked  hat 
So  briefly  worn  in  a  dream  of  luck  and  the  ego. 
One  cannot  help  feeling  sorry  for  George  McClellan, 
He  should  have  been  a  hero  by  every  rule. 
He  looked  the  part— he  could  have  acted  the  part 
Word  perfectly.  He  looked  like  an  empire-maker. 
But  so  few  empire-makers  have  looked  the  part. 

Fate  has  a  way  of  picking  unlikely  material, 
Greasy-haired  second  lieutenants  of  French  artillery, 
And  bald-headed,  dubious,  Roman  rake-politicians. 
Her  stiff  hands  were  busy  now  with  an  odd  piece  of  wood, 
Sometime  Westpointer,  by  accident  more  than  choice, 
Sometime  brevet-captain  in  the  old  Fourth  Infantry, 
Mentioned  in  Mexican  orders  for  gallant  service 
And,  six  years  later,  forced  to  resign  from  the  Army 
Without  enough  money  to  pay  for  a  stateroom  home. 
Turned  farmer  on  Hardscrabble  Farm,  turned  bill-collector, 
Turned  clerk  in  the  country-store  that  his  brothers  ran, 
The  eldest-born  of  the  lot,  but  the  family-failure, 
Unloading  frozen  hides  from  a  farmer's  sleigh 
With  stoop-shouldered  strength,  whittling  beside  the  stove, 
And  now  and  then  turning  to  whislcey  to  take  the  sting 
From  winter  and  certain  memories. 

It  didn't  take  much. 

A  glass  or  two  would  thicken  the  dogged  tongue 
And  flush  the  fair  skin  beneath  the  ragged  brown  beard. 
Poor  and  shabby— old  "Cap"  Grant  of  Galena, 
Who  should  have  amounted  to  something  but  hadn't  so  far 
Though  he  worked  hard  and  was  honest. 

A  middle-aged  clerk, 
A  stumpy,  mute  man  in  a  faded  army  overcoat, 


Who  wrote  the  War  Department  after  Fort  Sumter, 
Offering  them  such  service  as  he  could  give 
And  saying  he  thought  that  he  was  fit  to  command 
As  much  as  a  regiment,  but  getting  no  answer. 
So  many  letters  come  to  a  War  Department, 
One  can  hardly  bother  the  clerks  to  answer  them  all- 
Then  a  Volunteer  colonel,  drilling  recruits  with  a  stick, 
A  red  bandanna  instead  of  an  officer's  sash; 
A  brigadier-general,  one  of  thirty-seven, 
Snubbed  by  Halleck  and  slighted  by  fussy  Fremont; 
And  then  the  frozen  February  gale 
Over  Fort  Henry  and  Fort  Donelson, 
The  gunboats  on  the  cold  river—the  brief  siege— 
"Unconditional  surrender"— and  the  newspapers. 

Major-General  Grant,  with  his  new  twin-stars, 
Who,  oddly,  cared  so  little  for  reading  newspapers, 
Though  Jesse  Grant  wrote  dozens  of  letters  to  them 
Pointing  out  all  the  wonders  his  son  had  done 
And  wringing  one  dogged  letter  from  that  same  son 
That  should  have  squelched  anybody  but  Jesse  Grant. 
It  did  not  squelch  him.  He  was  a  business  man, 
And  now  Ulysses  had  astonished  Galena 
By  turning  out  to  be  somebody  after  all; 
Ulysses*  old  father  was  going  to  see  him  respected 
And,  incidentally,  try  to  wangle  a  contract 
For  army-harness  and  boom  the  family  tannery. 
It  was  a  great  surprise  when  Ulysses  refused, 
The  boy  was  so  stubborn  about  it. 

And  everywhere 

Were  business-people,  picking  up  contraband  cotton, 
Picking  up  army-contracts,  picking  up  shoddy, 
Picking  up  shoes  and  blankets,  picking  up  wagons, 
Businesslike  robins,  picking  up  juicy  earthworms, 
Picking  up  gold  all  over  Tom-Tiddler's  Ground, 
And  Ulysses  wouldn't  see  it. 

Few  people  have  been 
More  purely  Yankee,  in  essence,  than  Jesse  Grant. 

More  pictures— Jefferson  Davis,  in  dripping  Spring  rain, 

Reading  a  chilly  inauguration-address 

To  an  unstirred  crowd.  He  is  really  President  now. 


His  eyes  are  more  tired,  his  temper  beginning  to  fray. 
A  British  steamer  in  the  Bahama  Channel 
Stopped  by  a  Captain  Wilkes  and  a  Union  cruiser. 
They  take  two  men,  and  let  the  steamer  puff  on 
—And  light  a  long  hissing  fuse  that  for  a  month 
Nearly  brings  war  with  England.  Lincoln  and  Seward 
Stamp  out  the  fuse,  and  let  the  Confederates  go- 
Wooden  frigates  at  anchor  in  Hampton  Roads 
Burning  and  sinking  with  tattered  banners  apeak 
Under  the  strange  new,  armadillo-bite 
Of  something  plated  with  iron  that  yet  can  float, 
The  Merrimac— and  all  Washington  and  the  North    • 
In  a  twenty-four-hours'  panic— then,  next  day— 
As  Lincoln  stares  from  the  window  of  the  White  House 
For  the  sooty  sign  in  the  sky  that  means  defeat— 
The  armadillo,  smoking  back  in  her  pride 
To  crunch  up  another  meal  of  weak  wooden  ships, 
Is  beaten  off  by  another  leaky  prodigy 
A  tin-can  cylinder  on  a  floating  shingle, 
The  Monitor— the  first  fight  of  iron-clads, 
The  sinking  of  all  the  world's  old  sea-bitten  names, 
Temeraire,  Victory,  and  Constellation, 
Serapis,  Eon  Honrme  Richard,  Golden  Hind, 
Galleys  of  Antony,  galleys  of  Carthage, 
Galleons  with  gilded  Virgins,  galleasses, 
Viking  long-serpents,  siren-haunted  galliots, 
Argos  and  argosies  and  the  Achaean  pride, 
Moving  to  sea  in  one  long  wooden  wall 
Behind  the  huge  ghost-flagship  of  the  Ark 

D       D  O          1 

In  such  a  swelling  cloud  of  phantom  sail 

They  whitened  Ocean—going  down  by  the  head, 

Green  water  seeping  through  the  battened  ports, 

Spreading  along  the  scrubbed  and  famous  decks, 

Going  down— going  down— going  down— to  mermaid-pools, 

To  Fiddler's  Green— to  the  dim  barnacle-thrones, 

Where  Davy  Jones  drinks  everlasting  rum 

With  the  sea-horses  of  his  sunken  dreams. 

But  this  is  Ellyat's  tune— and  if  the  new 
Army  of  the  Potomac  stands  astrain 
To  end  Secession  with  its  "little  Napoleon." 
If  Lee  is  just  about  to  find  his  hour; 


If,  among  many  mirrors  and  gilt  chairs, 

Under  the  flare  of  the  gas-chandeliers 

A  sallow-faced  and  puffy  Emperor 

With  waxed  mustachios  and  a  slick  goatee 

Gave  various  Southern  accents,  talking  French, 

Evasive  answers  and  no  definite  help, 

Ready  enough  to  recognize  the  South 

If  he  were  sure  of  profit  in  the  scheme 

But  not  yet  finding  such  a  profit  sure; 

If  in  the  foggy  streets  of  Westminster, 

The  salty  streets  of  Liverpool  and  Hull, 

The  same  mole-struggle  in  the  dark  went  on 

Between  Confederate  and  Unionist— 

The  Times  raved  at  the  North— Mr.  Gladstone  thought 

England  might  recognize  the  South  next  year, 

While  Palmerston  played  such  a  tangled  game 

It  is  illegible  yet— and  Henry  Adams 

Added  one  more  doubt  to  his  education 

By  writing  propaganda  for  the  North, 

It  is  all  mist  to  Ellyat. 

And  when  he  sleeps, 

He  does  not  dream  of  Grant  or  Lee  or  Lincoln. 
He  only  dreams  that  he  is  back  at  home 
With  a  heroic  wound  that  does  not  hurt, 
A  uniform  that  never  stings  with  lice, 
And  a  sword  like  Henry  Fairficld*s  to  show  Ellen  Baker. 

As  far  as  the  maps  and  the  blocks  on  the  maps  have  meaning 
The  situation  is  this. 

A  wide  Western  river, 
A  little  lost  landing,  with  a  steamboat-store, 
A  post  office  where  the  roads  from  the  landings  meet, 
A  plank  church  three  miles  inland  called  Shiloh  Chapel, 
An  undulating  and  broken  table-land 
Roughed  into  a  triangle  by  bordering  creeks. 
Each  side  of  the  triangle  runs  about  four  miles  long 
And,  scattered  in  camps  from  the  tip  of  the  triangle 
To  the  base  at  the  landing,  are  thirty-three  thousand  men, 
Some  fairly  seasoned  in  war,  but  many  green  sticks, 
Grant's  Army  of  the  Tennessee. 

Down  the  river 


Don  Carlos  Buell  has  twenty-five  thousand  more 
In  the  Army  of  the  Ohio. 

Opposing  these 

Are  Albert  Sidney  Johnston  and  Beauregard 
With  something  like  forty  thousand  butternut  fighters, 
Including  a  martial  bishop. 

Johnston  plans 

To  smash  Grant's  army  to  bits,  before  Buell  can  join  it, 
And  water  his  wagon-trains  in  the  Tennessee. 
He  has  sneaked  his  army  along  through  wilderness  roads 
Till  now  they  are  only  a  mile  and  a  half  away 
Tonight  from  the  Union  lines. 

He  is  tall  and  active. 

Light  brown  hair  streaked  with  grey  feathers,  blue  claymore  eyes 
That  get  steel  shadows  in  battle,  a  face  like  Hamilton's, 
Old  Westpointer,  old  cavalry-colonel,  well-schooled  in  war. 
Lincoln  offered  to  make  him  a  major-general 
And  rumor  says  that  he  could  have  had  the  command 
Of  the  Union  armies,  once. 

But  he  resigned 

And  later,  went  with  his  State.  It  is  hard  to  say 
What  he  might  have  been. 

They  called  him  the  "preux  chevalier" 
At  times,  as  they  called  and  were  to  call  many  others 
With  that  Waverley-streak  that  was  so  strong  in  the  South. 
They  also  called  him  one  of  Davis's  pets, 
One  of  the  tin  Westpointers  that  Davis  favored 
Above  good  politicians  and  courtesy  colonels. 
The  Richmond  Enquirer  didn't  think  so  much  of  him, 
His  soldiers  thought  rather  more. 

Only  this  can  be  said. 

He  caught  Grant  napping  in  some  strange  flaw  of  skill 
Which  happened  once  and  did  not  happen  again. 
And  drove  his  unprepared,  unwatchful  brigades 
Back  almost  into  the  river. 

And  in  the  heat 

Of  seeing  his  lines  go  forward,  he  bled  to  death 
From  a  wound  that  should  not  have  been  mortal. 

After  which, 

While  the  broken  Union  stragglers  under  the  bluff 
Were  still  howling  that  they  were  beaten,  Buell  came  up, 
Lew  Wallace  came  up,  the  knife  half-sunk  in  the  wound 


Was  not  thrust  home,  the  night  fell,  the  battle  lagged. 
The  bulldog  got  the  bone  in  his  teeth  again 
And  next  day,  reinforced,  beat  Beauregard  back 
And  counted  a  Union  victory. 

In  the  books 

Both  sides  claim  victory  on  one  day  or  the  other 
And  both  claims  seem  valid  enough. 

It  only  remains 

To  take  the  verdict  of  the  various  dead 
In  this  somewhat  indecisive  meeting  of  blocks. 
There  were  thirty -five  hundred  dead  when  the  blocks  had  met. 
But,  being  dead,  their  verdict  is  out  of  court. 
They  cannot  puzzle  the  books  with  their  testimony. 

Now,  though,  it  is  only  the  evening  before  the  day. 
Johnston  and  Beauregard  meet  with  their  corps-commanders 
By  the  wagon-cut  Pittsburg  road.  The  march  has  been  slow. 
The  marching  men  have  been  noisy  and  hard  to  manage. 
By  every  rule  of  war,  Grant  must  have  been  warned 
Long  before  now,  and  is  planning  an  ambush  for  them. 
They  are  being  marched  into  an  open  Union  trap. 
So  Beauregard  thinks  and  says— and  is  perfectly  right 
According  to  rules.  There  is  only  one  difficulty. 
There  is  no  ambush. 

Sherman  has  just  reported 

The  presence  of  enemy  troops  in  front  of  his  lines 
But  says  he  expects  nothing  more  than  some  picket-firing 
And  Grant  that  evening  telegraphs  General  Halleck, 
"I  have  scarcely  the  faintest  idea  of  an  attack." 

So  much  for  the  generals.  Beauregard  makes  his  point 
And  is  overruled. 

The  April  night  comes  down. 

The  butternut  men  try  to  get  some  sleep  while  they  can. 
They  are  to  be  up  and  fighting  by  five  in  the  morning. 

Jack  Ellyat,  least  of  any,  expected  attack. 
He  woke  about  five  with  a  dazzle  struck  in  his  eyes 
Where  a  long  dawn-ray  slid  through  a  crack  in  the  tent. 
He  cursed  at  the  ray  and  tried  to  go  back  to  sleep 
But  he  couldn't  do  it,  although  he  was  tired  enough, 


Something  ate  at  his  mind  as  soon  as  he  wakened 
And  kept  on  eating. 

This  morning  was  Sunday  morning. 

The  bells  would  be  jangling  for  church  back  home,  pretty  soon, 
The  girls  would  be  going  to  church  in  white  Sunday  dresses, 
No,  it  was  too  early  for  that— they'd  be  muffled  up 
In  coats  and  galoshes.  Their  cheeks  would  be  pink  as  apples. 
He  wanted  to  see  a  girl  who  washed  her  hair, 
Not  a  flat  old  woman  sucking  a  yellow  snuffstick 
Or  one  of  the  girls  in  the  dirty  blue  silk  wrappers 
With  flags  on  their  garters.  He  wanted  to  see  a  girl. 

He  wondered  idly  about  the  flags  on  the  garters. 
Did  they  change  them  to  Rebel  flags  when  the  Rebels  came? 
Some  poor  whore  down  the  river  had  had  herself 
Tattooed  with  a  Secesh  flag.  She  was  patriotic. 
She  cried  so  hard  when  the  Union  troops  were  landed 
That  the  madam  h^d  to  hide  her  down  in  the  cellar. 
He  must  be  bad  tolbe  thinking  of  things  like  that 
On  Sunday  morning.  He'd  better  go  to  church 
If  they  had  any  kind  of  church,  and  make  up  for  it— 
O  frosty  churchbells  jangling  across  the  thin 
Crust  of  packed  frost,  under  Connecticut  sky, 
Put  snow  on  my  tongue,  and  the  grey,  cool  flower  of  rain- 
He  had  to  get  up.  He  couldn't  lie  here  and  listen 
To  Bailey  and  the  rest  of  them,  snoring  away. 
His  throat  was  dry.  He  needed  a  drink  of  water 
But  not  from  a  muddy  river—put  rain  on  my  tongue! 
Souse  me  with  chilly,  sweet  flaws  of  Puritan  rain- 
He  started  to  put  on  his  boots,  looking  over  at  Bailey. 
Bailey  was  bearded,  Bailey  was  thirty-two, 
Bailey  had  been  a  teamster  and  was  a  corporal. 
The  waking  Bailey  looked  like  a  stupid  horse, 
The  sleeping  Bailey-  looked  like  a  dirty  sack, 
Bailey  called  him  "Colonel"  and  didn't  mean  it, 
Bailey  had  had  him  tossed  in  a  blanket  once, 
Bailey  had  told  the  tale  of  the  tattooed  whore, 
Somehow  he  hated  Bailey  worse  than  the  rest. 
He  managed  to  leave  the  tent  without  waking  Bailey. 
It  was  very  early  still.  The  sun  was  just  up. 
A  fair  sky,  a  very  fair  day.  The  air  still  held 
That  bloom  which  is  not  the  bloom  on  apple  or  peach 


But  the  bloom  on  a  fruit  made  up  of  pure  water  and  light, 
The  freshness  of  dawn,  still  trembling,  being  new-born. 
He  sucked  at  it  gratefully. 

The  camp  was  asleep. 

All  that  length  of  tents  still  asleep.  He  could  see  through  the  tents. 
He  could  see  all  those  sleeping,  rough,  lousy,  detested  men 
Laden  with  sleep  as  with  soft  leaden  burdens  laden, 
Movelessly  lying  between  the  brown  fawns  of  sleep 
Like  infants  nuzzled  against  the  flanks  of  a  doe, 
In  quietness  slumbering,  in  a  warm  quietness, 
While  sleep  looked  at  them  with  her  fawn's  agate  eyes 
And  would  not  wake  them  yet. 

And  he  was  alone, 

And  for  a  moment,  could  see  this,  and  see  them  so 
And,  being  free,  stand  alone,  and  so  being  free 
To  love  or  hate,  do  neither,  but  merely  stand 
Above  them  like  sleep  and  see  them  with  untouched  eyes. 
In  a  while  they  would  wake,  and  he  would  hate  them  again. 
But  now  he  was  sleep.  He  was  the  sun  on  the  coat 
Of  the  halted  fawn  at  the  green  edge  of  the  wood 
Staring  at  morning. 

He  could  not  hate  them  yet. 

Somebody  near  by,  in  the  woods,  took  a  heap  of  dry  sticks, 
And  began  to  break  them  quickly^  first  one  by  one, 
Then  a  dozen  together,  then  hard-cracking  axe-helves  breaking. 
Ellyat  was  running.  His  mouth  felt  stiff  with  loud  words 
Though  he  heard  no  sound  from  his  mouth.  He  could  see  the 

Fine  pine-splinters  flying  from  those  invisible  axe-helves.  .  .  . 

For  a  minute  all  of  them  were  tangled  together 

In  the  bucking  tent  like  fish  in  a  canvas  scoop, 

Then  they  were  out  of  it  somehow— falling  in  line— - 

Bailey's  hair  looked  angry  and  sleepy.  The  officers 

Were  yelling  the  usual  things  that  officers  yelled. 

It  was  a  surprise.  They  were  going  to  be  licked  again. 

It  did  not  matter  yet.  It  would  matter  soon. 

Bailey  had  lost  his  blouse  and  his  pants  weren't  buttoned. 

He  meant  to  tell  Bailey  about  it.  There  wasn't  time. 

His  eyes  felt  bald  as  glass  but  that  was  because 

He  kept  looking  for  flying  pine-splinters  in  the  air. 


Now  they  were  setting  off  firecrackers  under  a  boiler 
And  a  man  ran  past  with  one  hand  dripping  red  paint, 
Holding  the  hand  with  his  other  hand  and  talking 
As  if  the  hurt  hand  were  a  doll. 

An  officer  hit  him 

With  the  flat  of  a  sword.  It  spanked  some  dust  from  his  coat 
And  the  man's  face  changed  from  a  badly-fitting  mask 
Of  terror,  cut  into  ridges  of  sallow  wax, 
To  something  pink  and  annoyed,  but  he  kept  on  running. 
All  this  happened  at  once  as  they  were  moving. 
The  dawn  had  been  hit  to  pieces  with  a  hard  mallet. 
There  were  no  fawns.  There  was  an  increasing  noise 
Through  which  he  heard  the  lugubrious  voice  of  Bailey 
Singing  off-key,  like  a  hymn, 

"When  I  was  a  weaver,  I  lived  by  myself, 
And  I  worked  at  the  weaver's  tra-a-de— " 

The  officers  were  barking  like  foxes  now. 

As  the  last  tent  dropped  behind  them,  Ellyat  saw 
A  red,  puzzled  face,  looking  out  from  under  a  tent-flap, 
Like  a  bear  from  a  cave.  The  face  had  been  drunk  last  night, 
And  it  stared  at  the  end  of  the  column  with  a  huge  and  stupid 

"When  I  was  a  weaver,  I  lived  by  myself, 
And  I  worked  at  the  weaver's  trade—" 

Jack  Ellyat  found  himself  back  behind  somebody's  tent 

After  a  while.  He  had  been  out  in  the  woods. 

He  remembered  scrouging  against  a  too-porous  tree 

For  a  day  or  a  nuniber  of  minutes  while  he  jerked 

A  rattling  ramrod  up  and  down  in  a  gun. 

But  they  couldn't  stay  in  the  woods—they  had  to  come  back. 

They  had  called  him  "Bull  Run  Jack"  but  they  had  to  come  back, 

Bailey  and  all  the  rest.  He  had  come  back  with  them, 

But  that  was  different-that  was  all  right  for  him. 

This  red-colored  clang  of  haste  was  different  for  him. 

Bailey  and  all  the  rest  could  run  where  they  liked. 

He  was  an  old  soldier.  He  would  stay  here  and  fight. 


Running,  he  tripped  on  a  rope,  and  began  to  fall, 

Bailey  picked  him  back  on  his  feet.  "Did  they  get  you,  Bud?" 

"No,  they  didn't  get  me." 

Ellyat's  voice  was  a  snarl. 

What  business  had  Bailey  steadying  him  like  that? 
He  hadn't  been  running. 

Suddenly  he  saw 

Grey  shouting  strangers  bursting  into  the  tents 
And  his  heart  shrank  up  in  a  pea. 

"Oh  hell,"  he  said, 

Hopelessly  ramming  a  cartridge.  He  was  an  old  soldier. 
He  wasn't  going  to  run.  He  was  going  to  act 
Vast  fictive  heroisms  in  front  of  Bailey, 
If  they  only  gave  him  time,  just  a  little  time. 

A  huge  horse  rose  above  the  wall  of  the  tent 
And  hung  there  a  second  like  a  bad  prodigy, 
A  frozen  scream  full  of  hoofs. 

He  struck  at  its  head 

And  tried  to  get  out  from  under  as  it  lunged  down 
But  he  wasn't  quite  quick  enough. 

As  he  slipped  and  fell 

He  saw  the  laughter  pasted  on  Bailey's  face 
But  before  he  could  hear  the  laugh,  the  horse  had  fallen, 
Jarring  the  world. 

After  blunt,  sickly  time 

A  fat  young  man  with  a  little  pink  moustache 
Was  bawling  "Hey,  Yank,  surrender!"  into  his  ear 
And  nervously  waving  a  pistol  in  front  of  his  eyes. 
He  nodded  weakly.  "Hey,  boys,"  called  the  fat  young  man, 
"I  got  two  Yanks!"  His  mouth  was  childish  with  pleasure. 
He  was  going  to  tell  everybody  he  had  two  Yanks. 
"Here,  Yank,  come  and  pull  the  horse  off  the  other  Yank." 

The  prisoner's  column  straggled  along  the  road 

All  afternoon.  Jack  Ellyat  marched  in  it  numbly. 

He  was  stiff  and  sore.  They  were  going  away  from  the  battle 

But  they  could  still  hear  it,  quaking, 

The  giant  stones  rolled  over  the  grumbling  bridge. 

Some  of  the  prisoners  tried  to  joke  with  the  guards, 
Some  walked  in  silence,  some  spoke  out  now  and  then, 
As  if  to  explain  to  the  world  why  they  were  there. 


One  man  said,  "I  got  a  sore  heel.'1  Another  said, 

"All  the  same  the  Tenth  Missouri's  a  damn  good  regiment." 

Another  said,  "Listen,  boys,  don't  it  beat  all  hell? 

I  left  my  tobacco  behind  me,  back  in  the  tent, 

Don't  it  beat  all'hell  to  lose  your  tobacco  like  that?" 

Bailey  kept  humming  the  "Weaver,"  but  now  and  then 

He  broke  it  off ,  to  say,  with  a  queer  satisfaction, 

"Well,  we  surely  did  skedaddle—we  surely  did." 

Jack  Ellyat  had  said  nothing  for  a  long  time. 

This  was  war,  this  was  Phaeton,  this  was  the  bronze  chariot 

Rolling  the  sky.  If  he  had  a  soul  any  more 

It  felt  scrawny  and  thin  as  a  sick  turkey-poult. 

It  was  not  worth  the  trouble  to  fatten.  He  tried  to  fatten  it 

With  various  thoughts,  now  and  then,  but  the  thoughts  were 


Corn.  They  had  damn  well  skedaddled.  They  damn  well  had. 
That  was  all.  The  rest  of  the  army  could  win  or  lose 
They  had  surely  skedaddled.  They  had  been  whipped  again. 
He  had  been  whipped  again. 

He  was  no  longer 

The  old  soldier— no  longer  even  "Bull  Run  Jack." 
He  had  lost  a  piece  of  himself.  It  had  ragged  edges 
That  piece.  He  could  see  it  left  behind  in  the  tents 
Under  a  dirty  coat  and  a  slab  of  tobacco. 

After  a  while  he  knocked  against  Bailey's  arm. 
"Where  are  we  going?"  he  said,  in  a  shy  voice. 
Bailey  laughed,  not  badly,  "Well,  Colonel,  Corinth  I  guess, 
Corinth  first— and  then  some  damn  prison-camp." 
He  spat  in  the  road.  "It  won't  be  good  grub,"  he  said. 
"Bacon  and  hominy-grits.  They  don't  eat  right. 
They  don't  eat  nothing  but  bacon  and  hominy-grits. 
God,  I'm  goin'  to  gfet  tired  of  bacon  and  hominy-grits!" 

Ellyat  looked.  There  was  something  different  about  him. 
He  stated  a  fact.  "You've  buttoned  your  pants,"  he  said. 
"I  remember  you  didn't  have  'em  buttoned  this  morning." 

'That's  so,"  said  Bailey,  impressed,  "Now  when  did  I  button 


They  chewed  at  the  question,  trying  to  puzzle  it  out. 
It  seemed  very  important  to  both  for  quite  a  long  time. 

It  was  night  now.  The  column  still  marched.  But  Bailey  and 


Had  dropped  to  the  rear  of  the  column,  planning  escape. 
There  were  few  guards  and  the  guards  were  as  tired  as  they. 
Two  men  could  fall  in  a  ditch  by  the  side  of  the  road 
And  get  away,  perhaps,  if  they  picked  a  good  time. 
They  talked  it  over  in  stupid  whispers  of  weariness. 
The  next  bend— no,  the  guard  was  coming  along. 
The  next  bend  after— no,  there  was  light  for  a  moment 
From  a  brief  star,  then  clouded—the  top  of  the  hill— 
The  bottom  of  the  hill— and  they  still  were  marching. 
Rain  began  to  fall,  a  drizzle  at  first,  then  faster. 
Ellyat's  eyes  were  thick.  He  walked  in  a  dream, 
A  heavy  dream,  cut  from  leaden  foil  with  blunt  shears. 
Then  Bailey  touched  him— he  felt  the  tired  bones  of  his  skull 
Click  with  a  sudden  spark— his  feet  stopped  walking- 
He  held  his  breath  for  an  instant, 

And  then  wearily  slumped  in  the  ditch  with  enormous  noise, 
Hunching  his  shoulders  against  a  phantom  bayonet. 

But  when  he  could  raise  his  head,  the  column  had  gone. 
He  felt  fantastic.  They  couldn't  escape  like  this. 
You  had  to  escape  like  a  drawing  in  Harper's  Weekly 
With  stiff  little  men  on  horses  like  sickle-pears 
Firing  round  frozen  cream-puffs  into  your  back. 
But  they  had  escaped. 

Life  came  back  to  him  in  a  huge 
Wave  of  burnt  stars.  He  wanted  to  sing  and  yell. 
He  crackled  out  of  the  ditch  and  stood  beside  Bailey. 
Had  he  ever  hated  Bailey?  It  could  not  have  been. 
He  loved  Bailey  better  than  anything  else  in  the  world. 

They  moved  slyly  toward  the  woods,  they  were  foxes  escaped. 

Wise  foxes  sliding  away  to  a  hidden  earth 

To  a  sandy  floor,  to  the  warm  fawn-flanks  of  sweet  sleep.  .  .  . 

And  then  an  awful  molasses-taffy  voice 

Behind  them  yelled  "Halt!"  and  "Halt!"  and-sudden  explosion 

Of  desultory  popcorn  in  iron  poppers— 


Wild  running  at  random— a  crash  among  broken  boughs— 
A  fighting  sound— Bailey's  voice,  half-strangled  but  clear, 
"Run  like  hell,  Jack,  they'll  never  catch  you!"  ' 

He  ran  like  hell. 

Time  passed  like  the  rain.  Time  passed  and  was  one  with  the 

Ellyat  woke  from  a  nightmare  and  put  out  his  hand 
To  touch  the  wall  by  his  bed,  but  there  was  no  wall. 
Then  he  listened  for  Bailey's  snoring. 

And  he  heard 

The  gorged,  sweet  pouring  of  water  through  infinite  boughs, 
The  hiss  of  the  big  spilt  drop  on  the  beaten  leaf, 
The  bird-voiced  and  innumerable  rain, 
A  wet  quail  piping,  a  thousand  soaked  black  flutes 
Building  a  lonely  castle  of  sliding  tears, 
Strange  and  half-cruel  as  a  dryad's  bright  grief. 

Ellyat  huddled  closer  under  the  tree, 

Remembering  what  he  could.  He  had  run  for  years, 

He  had  slept  for  years— and  yet  it  was  still  not  dawn. 

It  seemed  cruel  to  him  that  it  should  never  be  dawn. 

It  seemed  cruel  that  Bailey  was  lost.  He  had  meant  to  show 

Some  fictive  heroisms  in  front  of  Bailey. 

He  had  not.  Bailey  had  saved  his  skin  instead, 

And  Bailey  was  lost.  And  in  him  something  was  lost, 

Something  worse  than  defeat  or  this  rain— some  piece  of  himself. 

Some  piece  of  courage. 

Now  the  slant  rain  began 

To  creep  through  his  sodden  heart.  He  thought,  with  wild  awe, 
"This  is  Nibelung  Hall.  I  am  lying  in  Nibelung  Hall. 
I  am  long  dead.  I  feJJ  there  out  of  the  sky 
In  a  wreck  of  horses,  spilling  the  ball  of  the  sun, 
And  they  shut  my  eyes  with  stone  runes  and  put  me  to  sleep 
On  a  bier  where  the  living  stream  perpetually  flows 
Past  Ygdrasil  and  waters  the  roots  of  the  world. 
I  can  hear  the  ravens  scream  from  the  cloudy  roof. 
I  can  hear  the  bubbles  rising  in  the  clear  stream. 
I  can  hear  the  old  gods  shout  in  the  heathen  sky 
As  the  hawk- Valkyrie  carry  the  stiffened  lumps 


Of  corpse-faced  heroes  shriekingly  to  Valhalla. 

This  is  Nibelung  Hall.  I  must  break  the  runes  fronrthy  eyes. 

I  must  escape  it  or  die." 

He  slept.  The  rain  fell. 

Melora  Vilas,  rising  by  candlelight, 

Looked  at  herself  in  the  bottom  of  the  tin  basin 

And  wished  that  she  had  a  mirror. 

Now  Spring  was  here, 

She  could  kneel  above  the  well  of  a  forest  pool 
And  see  the  shadow  hidden  under  the  water, 
The  intent  brown  eyes,  the  small  face  cut  like  a  heart. 
She  looked  at  the  eyes  and  the  eyes  looked  back  at  her, 
But  just  when  it  seemed  they  could  start  to  talk  to  each  other- 
"What  arc  you  like?  Who  are  you?"— 

a  ripple  flawed 
The  deep  glass  and  the  shadow  trembled  away. 

If  she  only  had  a  mirror,  maybe  she'd  know 

Something,  she  didn't  know  what,  but  something  important, 

Something  like  knowing  your  skin  and  you  were  alive 

On  a  good  day,  something  as  drenched  as  sleep, 

As  wise  as  sleep,  as  piercing  as  the  bee's  dagger. 

But  she'd  never  know  it  unless  she  could  get  a  mirror 

And  they'd  never  get  a  mirror  while  they  were  hiders. 

They  were  bound  to  be  hiders  as  long  as  the  war  kept  on. 

Pop  was  that  way.  She  remembered  roads  and  places. 

She  was  seventeen.  She  had  seen  a  lot  of  places, 

A  lot  of  roads.  Pop  was  always  moving  along. 

Everybody  she'd  ever  known  was  moving  along. 

—Dusty  wagons  full  of  chickens  and  children, 

Full  of  tools  and  quilts,  Rising  Sun  and  Roses  of  Sharon, 

Mahogany  dressers  out  of  Grandmother's  house, 

Tin  plates,  cracked  china,  a  couple  of  silver  spoons, 

Moving  from  State  to  State  behind  tired,  scuffed  horses 

Because  the  land  was  always  better  elsewhere. 

Next  time  they'd  quit.  Next  stop  they'd  settle  right  down. 
Next  year  they'd  have  time  to  rub  up  the  mahogany  dresser* 


Next  place,  Mom  could  raise  the  flowers  she  wanted  to  raise. 
But  it  never  began.  They  were  always  moving  along. 

She  liked  Kansas  best.  She  wished  they'd  go  back  to  Kansas. 

She  liked  the  smell  of  the  wind  there. 

But  Pop  hadn't  wanted  to  join  with  the  Free-Soilers 

And  then  the  slavery  men  had  shot  up  the  town 

And  killed  the  best  horse  they  had.  That  had  settled  Pop. 

He  said  something  about  a  plague  on  both  of  your  houses 

And  moved  along.  So  now  they  were  hiders  here 

And  whenever  you  wanted  to  ask  Pop  about  the  war 

All  he  said  was  that  same  old  thing  about  the  plague. 

She  mustn't  call  him  Pop— that  was  movers'-talk. 

She  must  call  him  Father,  the  way  Mom,  Mother  wanted. 

But  it  was  hard  to  remember.  Mom  talked  a  lot 

About  old  times  back  in  the  East  and  Grandmother's  house. 

She  couldn't  remember  an  East.  The  East  wasn't  real. 

There  was  only  the  dusty  road  and  moving  along. 

Although  she  knew  that  Mom  had  worn  a  silk  dress 

And  gone  to  a  ball,  once.  There  was  a  picture  of  Pop 

And  Mom,  looking  Eastern,  in  queer  old  Eastern  clothes. 

They  weren't  white  trash.  She  knew  how  to  read  and  figure. 

She'd  read  Macbeth  and  Eeidah  and  Oliver  Twist. 

She  liked  Beulah  best  but  Macbeth  would  have  suited  Pop. 

Sometimes  she  wondered  what  had  happened  to  them, 

When  Mother  used  to  live  in  Grandmother's  house 

And  wear  silk  dresses,  and  Father  used  to  read  Latin— 

When  had  they  started  to  go  just  moving  along, 

And  how  would  it  feel  to  live  in  Grandmother's  house? 

But  it  was  so  long  ago,  so  hard  to  work  out 

And  she  liked  it  this  way— she  even  liked  being  hiders. 

It  was  exciting,  especially  when  the  guns 

Coughed  in  the  sky  as  they  had  all  yesterday, 

When  Bent  hid  out  in  the  woods  to  keep  from  recruiters, 

And  you  knew  there  were  armies  stumbling  all  around  you, 

Big,  blundering  cows  of  armies,  snuffling  and  tramping 

The  whole  scuffed  world  with  their  muddy,  lumbering  hoofs, 

Except  the  little  lost  brushpile  where  you  were  safe. 

There  were  guns  in  the  sky  again  today.  Big  armies. 

An  army  must  be  fine  to  look  at. 

But  Pop 
Would  never  let  her  do  it  or  understand. 


An  army  or  a  mirror.  She  didn't  know 

Which  she'd  rather  find,  but  whenever  she  thought  of  it 

The  mirror  generally  won.  You  could  keep  a  mirror  yourself. 

She  had  to  call  the  hogs  that  afternoon. 

You  had  to  call  them  once  or  twice  a  month 

And  give  them  food  or  else  they  ran  too  wild 

And  never  came  for  butchering  in  the  Fall, 

Though' they  lived  well  enough  without  your  calling, 

Fat  in  the  forest,  feeding  on  beech  mast, 

Wild  muscadines  and  forest  provender 

That  made  their  flesh  taste  sweet  as  hazelnuts. 

She  liked  the  hogs,  they  weren't  tame,  sleepy  hogs 
Grunting  in  a  black  wallow,  they  were  proud 
Rapid  and  harsh  and  savage  as  Macbeth. 
There  was  a  young  boar  that  she  called  Macbeth, 
She'd  seen  him  fight  grey-bristled,  drowsy  Duncan 
And  drive  him  from  the  trough. 

Fagin  was  there, 

Bill  Sikes  was  there  and  Beulah  the  black  sow, 
And  Lady  Macduff  whose  grunt  was  half  a  whine. 
You  could  learn  lots  about  a  book  from  hogs. 
She  poured  the  swill  and  cupped  her  hands  to  call. 
Sometimes  they'd  help  her  with  it,  Pop  or  Bent, 
But  Pop  was  off  with  Bent  this  afternoon 
And  Mom  was  always  busy. 

Slim  and  straight 

She  stood  before  the  snake-rail  pen  that  kept 
Macbeths  on  their  own  proper  side  of  the  fence. 
"Piggy/'  she  called,  "Here,  piggy,  piggy,  piggy!" 
It  wasn't  the  proper  call,  but  the  hogs  knew 
That  sweet  clear  loudness  with  its  sleepy  silver 
Trembling  against  a  chanter  of  white  ash. 
"Here,  piggy,  piggy,  piggy,  piggy,  piggy! 
Here,  piggy,  piggy'"  There  was  a  scrambling  noise 
At  the  edge  of  the  woods.  "Here,  piggy'" 

It  was  Banquo. 
Greedy,  but  hesitant. 

The  Artful  Dodger 
Slim,  black  and  wicked,  had  two  feet  in  the  trough 


Before  that  obese  indecision  moved. 
"Here,  piggy!  Here,  piggy,  piggy!" 

The  gleaming  call 

Floated  the  air  like  a  bright  glassy  bubble, 
Far,  far,  with  its  clean  silver  and  white  ash. 
And  Ellyat,  lost  and  desperate  in  the  wood, 
Heard  it,  desirous  as  the  elvish  blast 
Wound  on  a  tiny  horn  of  magic  grass 
To  witch  steel  riders  into  a  green  hill. 
He  stumbled  toward  its  music. 

"piggy>  piggy* 

Here,  piggy,  piggy!" 

The  swine  grunted  and  jostled. 
Melora  watched  them,  trying  to  count  them  up 
With  grave  eyes,  brown  as  nuts  in  rainwater. 
They  were  all  there,  she  thought—she  must  be  sure. 
She  called  again.  No,  something  moved  in  the  woods. 
She  stared  past  the  clearing,  puzzled.  So  Ellyat  saw  her 
Beyond  the  swine,  head  lifted  like  a  dark  foal 
That  listens  softly  for  strangeness. 

And  she  saw 

An  incoherent  scarecrow  in  blue  clothes 
Stagger  on  wooden  feet  from  the  deep  wood. 
She  called  to  him  to  keep  away  from  the  hogs, 

He  did  not  hear  or  obey. 
He  was  out  of  Nibelung  Hall. 

She  put  one  hand 

On  the  rail  of  the  fence  to  steady  herself  and  waited. 
"You  can't  come  in  here,"  she  said,  fiercely.  "The  hogs'll  kill 


But  he  was  past  the  fed  hogs  and  over  the  fence. 
She  saw  a  queer  look  on  his  face.  "You're  hungry,"  she  said. 
He  grinned,  made  a  noise  in  his  throat,  and  fell,  trying  to  touch 


Now  that  I  am  clean  again, 
Now  I've  slept  and  fed, 
How  shall  I  remember  when 
I  was  someone  dead? 


Now  the  balm  has  worked  its  art 
And  the  gashes  dry, 
And  the  lizard  at  my  heart 
Has  a  sleepy  eye, 

How  shall  I  remember  yet 
Freezing  underground, 
With  the  wakened  lizard  set 
To  the  living  wound? 

Do  not  ponder  the  offence 
Nor  reject  the  sore, 
Do  not  tear  the  cerements 
Flesh  may  need  once  more. 

Cold  comes  back  and  pain  comes  back 

And  the  lizard,  too. 

And  the  burden  in  the  sack 

May  be  meant  for  you. 

Do  not  play  the  risen  dunce 
With  unrisen  men. 
Lazarus  was  risen  once 
But  earth  gaped  again. 

So  Ellyat  swam  back  to  life,  swam  back  to  warmth 
And  the  smell  of  cooking  food.  It  was  night.  He  heard 
Impenetrable  rain  shake  a  low  roof 
And  hiss  stray,  scattering  drops  on  an  open  fire. 
But  he  was  safe.  That  rain  was  caged  in  the  sky. 
It  could  not  fall  on  him. 

He  lay  in  a  lax 

Idleness,  warm  and  hungry,  not  wanting  to  move. 
A  grub  in  a  close  cocoon  neither  bold  nor  wise,  but  content. 

A  tall  woman  was  cooking  mush  in  an  iron  pot. 

The  smell  of  the  mush  was  beautiful,  the  shape  of  the  pot 

More  beautiful  than  an  urn  by  sea-nymphs  carved 

From  sunken  marbles  stained  with  the  cold  sea-rose. 

The  woman  was  a  great  Norn,  in  her  pot  she  cooked  a  new  world* 


Made  of  pure  vapors  and  the  juices  of  unspoilt  fight, 
A  new  globe  of  sulliless  amber  and  grains  of  white  corn, 
An  orbed  perfection.  All  life  was  beautiful  now. 

A  girl  came  into  the  room  upon  light,  quick  feet. 

He  stared  at  her,  solemnly.  She  was  young  and  thin. 

The  small,  just  head  was  set  on  the  slender  neck 

With  a  clean  sureness.  The  heavy  hair  was  a  helm 

Of  bronze  cooled  under  a  ripple,  marked  by  that  flowing. 

It  was  not  slight  but  it  could  not  weight  her  down. 

Her  hands  and  feet  were  well  made  and  her  body  had 

That  effortless  ease,  that  blood  that  flies  with  the  bird. 

She  saw  his  open  eyes  and  came  over  to  him, 

Not  shyly  but  not  concernedly. 

Their  eyes  met. 

The  older  woman  kept  stirring  her  melted  world. 
"Well,"  said  the  girl,  "You  look  better."  He  nodded,  uYes." 
Their  eyes  said,  "I  have  seen  a  new  thing.  In  the  deep  cells 
Below  the  paltry  clockwork  of  the  ticked  heart, 
I  have  seen  something  neither  light  nor  night, 
A  new  thing,  a  new  picture.  It  may  mean 
The  lifting  of  a  shut  latch.  It  may  mean  nothing." 

She  made  an  escaping  gesture  with  her  right  hand. 

"You  didn't  say  who  you  were,"  she  said.  "You  just  fell. 

You  better  tell  who  you  are,  Pop'll  want  to  know." 

A  shadow  crossed  her.  "Pop  won't  want  to  keep  you,"  she  said. 

"But  I  reckon  we'll  have  to  keep  you  here  for  a  piece, 

You're  not  fit  to  travel  yet  and  that's  a  fact. 

You  look  a  little  bit  like  Young  Seward,"  she  said 

Reflectively,  "But  sometimes  you  look  more  like  Oliver. 

I  dunno.  What's  your  name?" 

Ellyat  put  forth  his  hand 

Toward  being  alive  again,  slowly,  hauling  it  down. 
He  remembered.  He  was  Jack  Ellyat.  He  had  been  lost. 
He  had  lain  with  hel-shoes  on  in  Nibelung  Hall 
For  twenty  years.  This  was  the  girl  with  the  swine 
Whose  loud  sweet  calling  had  come  to  him  in  the  wood 
And  lifted  him  back  to  warmth  and  a  cooking  world. 
He  had  lost  a  piece  of  himself,  a  piece  of  life, 
He  must  find  it,  but  now— 

"What's  your  name?"  he  said  in  a  whisper. 

1 20 

This  is  the  hidden  place  that  hiders  know. 

This  is  where  hiders  go. 

Step  softly,  the  snow  that  falls  here  is  different  snow, 

The  rain  has  a  different  sting. 

Step  softly,  step  like  a  cloud,  step  softly  as  the  least 

Whisper  of  air  against  the  beating  wing, 

And  let  your  eyes  be  sealed 

With  two  blue  muscadines 

Stolen  from  secret  vines, 

Or  you  will  never  find  in  the  lost  field 

The  table  spread,  the  signs  of  the  hidden  feast. 

This  is  where  hiders  live. 

This  is  the  tentative 

And  outcast  corner  where  hiders  steal  away 

To  bake  their  hedgehogs  in  a  lump  of  clay, 

To  raise  their  crops  and  children  wild  and  shy, 

And  let  the  world  go  by 

In  accidental  marches  of  armed  wrath 

That  stumble  blindly  past  the  buried  path. 

Step  softly,  step  like  a  whisper,  but  do  not  speak 

Or  you  will  never  see 

The  furriness  curled  within  the  hollow  tree, 

The  shadow-dance  upon  the  wilderness-creek. 

This  is  the  hiders'  house. 

This  is  the  ark  of  pine-and-willow-boughs. 

This  is  the  quiet  place. 

You  may  call  now,  but  let  your  call  be  sweet 

As  clover-honey  strained  through  silver  sieves 

And  delicate  as  the  dust  upon  the  moth 

Or  you  will  never  find  your  fugitives. 

Call  once,  and  call  again, 

Then,  if  the  lifted  strain 

Has  the  true  color  and  substance  of  the  wild, 

You  may  perceive,  if  you  have  lucky  eyes, 

Something  that  ran  away  from  being  wise 

And  changed  silk  ribbons  for  a  greener  cloth, 

Some  budding-horned  and  deer-milk-suckled  child 

Some  lightness,  moving  toward  you  on  light  feet, 

Some  girl  with  indolent  passion  in  her  face. 


Jack  Ellyat  wondered  about  things,  six  days  later. 

The  world  had  come  back  to  its  shape.  He  was  well  and  strong. 

He  had  seen  the  old  man  with  the  burnt  dreams  in  his  eyes, 

Who  had  fallen  from  something  years  ago  inTiis  youth 

Or  risen  from  something  with  an  effort  too  stark; 

The  runaway  who  had  broken  the  pasture-bars 

To  test  the  figments  of  life  on  a  wild  stone. 

You  could  see  the  ultimate  hardness  of  that  strange  stone 

Cut  in  his  face— but  then,  there  was  something  else, 

That  came  at  moments  and  went,  and  answered  no  questions. 

Had  the  feel  of  the  stone  been  worth  it,  after  all? 

It  puzzled  Ellyat. 

He  couldn't  figure  it  out. 

Going  West  to  get  fat  acres  was  common  enough, 
But,  once  you  got  the  acres,  you  settled  down, 
You  sent  your  children  to  school.  You  put  up  a  fence. 
When  a  war  came  along,  you  fought  on  your  proper  side; 
You  didn't  blast  both  sides  with  Mercutio's  curse 
And  hide  in  a  wilderness. 

The  man  was  all  wrong, 

And  yet  the  man  was  not  weak.  It  was  very  strange. 
If  the  man  had  been  weak,  you  could  understand  him  all  right. 

The  woman  was  more  easy  to  understand. 

He  liked  the  woman— he  liked  the  rough  shaggy  boy 

Who  had  lived  so  much  in  the  woods  to  keep  from  the  armies 

That  his  ears  were  sharp  as  a  squirrel's,  and  all  his  movements 

Had  something  untamed  about  them,  something  leafy  and  strange. 

Of  course  he  ought  to  be  fighting  for  the  North, 

He  was  really  a  skulk—but  things  were  different  here. 

You  couldn't  reason  about  the  difference  in  words 

But  you  felt  it  inside  your  skin. 

Things  were  different  here. 
Like  Nibelung  Hall  in  the  rain  of  his  fever-dream, 
But  with  no  terror,  with  an  indolent  peace. 

He'd  have  to  get  back  to  the  regiment  pretty  soon. 

He  couldn't  stay  here.  They  none  of  them  wanted  him  here. 

He'd  have  to  get  back.  But  he  didn't  know  where  to  go. 

They  could  tell  him  how  to  get  back  to  Pittsburg  Landing 

But  how  did  he  know  if  the  army  was  there  or  not? 

He  didn't  even  know  who'd  won  in  the  battle, 


And,  if  the  Rebs  had  won,  he'd  be  captured  again 
As  soon  as  he  got  on  a  road. 

Well,  he'd  have  to  chance  it. 
He  couldn't  stay  here  and  fall  in  love  with  Melora. 
Melora  came  walking  down  the  crooked  path 
With  a  long  shadow  before  her.  It  was  the  hour 
When  the  heat  is  out  of  the  gold  of  afternoon 
And  the  cooled  gold  has  not  yet  turned  into  grey, 
The  hour  of  the  paused  tide,  neither  flow  nor  ebb, 
The  flower  beginning  to  close  but  not  yet  closed. 

He  saw  her  carry  her  fairy  head  aloft 

Against  that  descending  gold, 

He  saw  the  long  shadow  that  her  slight  body  made. 

When  she  came  near  enough  to  him,  she  heard  him  humming 
A  tune  he  had  thought  forgotten,  the  weaver's  tune. 
"And  the  only  harm  that  I've  ever  done, 
Was  to  love  a  pretty  maid." 

She  halted,  trying  to  listen.  He  stopped  the  tune. 
"What's  that  you  were  singing?"  she  said. 

"Oh,  just  trash,"  he  said 
"I  liked  it.  Sing  it  some  more." 

But  he  would  not  sing  it. 

They  regarded  each  other  a  foot  or  so  apart. 
Their  shadows  blotted  together  into  one  shadow. 

She  put  her  hand  to  both  cheeks,  and  touched  them  lightly, 
As  if  to  cool  them  from  something. 

A  soft,  smooth  shock 
Inexplicable  as  the  birth  of  a  star 
And  terrible  as  the  last  cry  of  the  flesh 
Ran  through  his  cords  and  struck. 

He  stared  at  the  shadows. 

Then  she  took  her  shadow  into  the  house  with  her 
But  he  still  stood  looking  where  the  shadows  had  touched. 

John  Vilas  watched  them  go  off  through  the  wood 
To  get  the  water  from  the  other  spring, 

The  big  pail  clanking  between  them. 

His  hard  mouth 

Was  wry  with  an  old  nursery-rhyme,  but  his  eyes 
Looked  Somewhere  beyond  hardness. 

Let  them  go. 

Harriet  said  and  Harriet  always  said 
And  Harriet  was  right,  but  let  them  go. 
Men  who  go  looking  for  the  wilderness-stone 
And  find  it,  should  not  marry  or  beget, 
But,  having  done  so,  they  must  take  the  odds 
As  the  odds  are. 

Faustus  and  I  are  old. 
We  creep  about  among  the  hollow  trees 
Where  the  bright  devils  of  our  youth  have  gone 
Like  a  dissolving  magic,  back  to  earth. 
But  in  our  tarnished  and  our  antique  wands 
And  in  the  rusty  metal  of  our  spells 
There  still  remain  such  stubbornness  and  pith 
As  may  express  elixirs  from  ^i  rock 
Or  pick  a  further  quarrel  with  the  gods 
Should  we  find  cause  enough. 

I  know  this  girl, 

This  boy,  this  youth,  this  honey  in  the  blood, 
This  kingly  danger,  this  immediate  fire. 
I  know  what  comes  of  it  and  how  it  lies 
And  how,  long  afterwards,  at  the  split  core 
Of  the  prodigious  and  self-eaten  lie, 
A  little  grain  of  truth  lies  undissolved 
By  all  the  acids  of  philosophy. 
Therefore,  I  will  not  seek  a  remedy 
Against  a  sword  but  in  the  sword  itself 
Nor  medicine  life  with  anything  but  life. 
I  am  too  old  to  try  the  peddler's  tricks, 
Too  wise,  too  foolish,^ too  long  strayed  in  the  wood, 
The  custom  of  the  world  is  not  my  custom, 
Nor  its  employments  mine. 

I  know  this  girl 

I  As  well  as  if  I  never  lay  with  her  mother. 

'I  know  her  heart  touched  with  that  wilderness-stone 
That  turns  good  money  into  heaps  of  leaves 
And  builds  an  outcast  house  of  apple-twigs 
Beside  a  stream  that  never  had  a  name. 


She  will  forget  what  I  cannot  forget, 

And  she  may  learn  what  I  shall  never  learn, 

But,  while  the  wilderness-stone  is  strong  in  her, 

Fd  have  her  use  it  for  a  touchstone  yet 

And  see  the  double  face  called  good  and  bad 

With  her  own  eyes.  So,  if  she  stares  it  down, 

She  is  released,  and  if  it  conquers  her, 

She  was  not  weighted  with  a  borrowed  shield. 

We  are  no  chaff crers,  my  daughter  and  I. 
We  give  what  pleases  us  and  when  we  choose, 
And,  having  given,  we  do  not  take  back. 
But  once  we  shut  our  fists  upon  a  star 
It  will  take  portents  to  unloose  that  grip 
And  even  then  the  stuff  will  keep  the  print. 
It  is  a  habit  of  living. 

For  the  boy 

I  do  not  know  but  will  not  stand  between. 
He  has  more  toughness  in  him  than  he  thinks. 
—I  took  my  wife  out  of  a  pretty  house. 
—I  took  my  wife  out  of  a  pleasant  place. 
—I  stripped  my  wife  of  comfortable  things. 
—I  drove  my  wife  to  wander  with  the  wind. 
—And  we  are  old  now,  Faustus. 

Let  it  be  so. 

There  was  one  man  who  might  have  understood, 
Because  he  was  half-oriole  and  half-fox, 
Not  Emerson,  but  the  man  by  Walden  Pond. 
But  he  was  given  to  the  birds  in  youth 
And  never  had  a  woman  or  a  daughter. 

The  filled  pail  stood  on  a  stone  by  the  lip  of  the  spring, 
But  they  had  forgotten  the  pail. 

The  spring  was  a  cool 

Wavering  mirror  that  showed  them  their  white,  blurred  face 
And  made  them  wonder  to  see  the  faces  so  like 
And  yet  so  silent  and  distant. 

Melora  turned. 

"We  ought  to  go  back,"  she  said  in  a  commonplace  voice. 
"Not  yet,  Melora." 

Something,  as  from  the  spring 


Rising,  in  silver  smoke,  in  arras  of  silvers, 

Drifting  around  them,  pushed  by  a  light,  slow  wind. 

"Not  yet  Melora." 

They  sat  on  a  log  above. 

Melora's  eyes  were  still  looking  down  at  the  spring. 
Her  knees  were  hunched  in  her  arms. 

"You'll  be  going/'  she  said, 
Staring  at  the  dimmed  glass.  "You'll  be  going  soon." 
The  silver  came  closer,  soaking  into  his  body, 
Soaking  his  flesh  with  bright,  impalpable  dust. 
He  could  smell  her  hair.  It  smelt  of  leaves  and  the  wind. 
He  could  smell  the  untaken  whiteness  of  her  clean  flesh, 
The  deep,  implacable  fragrance,  fiercer  than  sleep, 
Sweeter  than  long  sleep  in  the  sun. 

He  touched  her  shoulder. 

She  let  the  hand  stay  but  still  she  gazed  at  the  spring. 
Then,  after  a  while,  she  turned. 

The  mirrored  mouths 
Fused  in  one  mouth  that  trembled  with  the  slow  waters. 

Melora,  in  the  room  she  had  to  herself 

Because  they  weren't  white-trash  and  used  to  be  Eastern, 

Let  the  rain  of  her  hair  fall  down, 

In  a  stream,  in  a  flood,  on  the  white  birch  of  her  body. 

She  was  changed,  then.  She  was  not  a  girl  any  more. 

She  was  the  white  heart  of  the  birch, 

Half  hidden  by  a  fleece  that  a  South  wind  spun 

Out  of  bronze  air  and  light,  on  a  wheel  of  light. 

Her  sharp  clear  breasts 

Were  two  young  victories  in  the  hollow  darkness 

And  when  she  stretched  her  hands  above  her  head 

And  let  the  spun  fleece  ripple  to  her  loins, 

Her  body  glowed  like  deep  springs  under  the  sun. 

She  had  no  song  to  sing  herself  asleep 

Tonight,  but  she  would  need  no  song  to  sing. 

A  thousand  thoughts  ran  past  her  in  a  brief 

Unhurrying  minute,  on  small,  quiet  feet 

But  did  not  change  her.  Nothing  could  change  her  now. 

—Black  winter  night  against  the  windowpane 

And  she,  a  child,  singing  her  fear  to  sleep 


With  nursery-rhymes  and  broken  scraps  of  tunes. 
How  well  she  could  remember  those  old  songs. 
But  this  night  she  would  sleep  without  a  song 
Except  the  song  the  earth  knows  in  the  night 
After  the  huge  embrace  of  the  bright  day, 
And  that  was  better. 

She  thought  to  herself. 

"I  don't  know.  I  can't  think.  I  ought  to  be  scared. 
I  ought  to  have  lots  of  maybes.  I  can't  find  them. 
It's  funny.  It's  different.  It's  a  big  pair  of  hands 
Pushing  you  somewhere— but  you've  got  to  go. 
Maybe  you're  crazy  but  you've  got  to  go. 
That's  why  Mom  went.  I  know  about  Mom  now. 
I  know  how  she  used  to  be.  It's  pretty  sweet. 
It's  rhymes,  it's  hurting,  it's  feeling  a  bird's  heart 
Beat  in  your  hand,  it's  children  growing  up, 
It's  being  cut  to  death  with  bits  of  light, 
It's  wanting  silver  bullets  in  your  heart, 
It's  not  so  happy,  but  it's  pretty  sweet, 
I've  got  to  go." 

She  passed  her  narrow  hands 
Over  her  body  once,  half-wonderingly. 

"Divide  this  transitory  and  temporal  flesh 

Into  twelve  ears  of  red  and  yellow  corn 

And  plant  each  ear  beside  a  different  stream. 

Yet,  in  the  summer,  when  the  harvesters 

Come  with  their  carts,  the  grain  shall  change  again 

And  turn  into  a  woman's  body  again 

And  walk  across  a  heap  of  sickle-blades 

To  find  the  naked  body  of  its  love." 

She  slipped  her  dress  back  on  and  stole  downstairs. 
The  bare  feet,  whispering,  made  little  sound. 
A  sleeper  breathed,  a  child  turned  in  its  sleep. 
She  heard  the  tiny  breathings.  She  shut  the  door. 

The  moon  rode  a  high  heaven  streaked  with  cloud. 
She  watched  it  for  a  moment.  Then  she  drank 
That  moon  from  its  high  heaven  with  her  mouth 
And  felt  the  immaculate  burning  of  that  frost 
Run  from  her  fingers  in  such  corporal  silver 


Her  whole  slight  body  was  a  corposant 

Of  hollow  light  and  the  cold  sap  of  the  moon. 

She  knew  the  dark  grass  cool  beneath  her  feet. 
She  knew  the  opening  of  the  stable  door. 
It  shut  behind  her.  She  was  in  darkness  now. 

Jack  Ellyat,  lying  in  a  warm  nest  of  hay, 
Stared  at  the  sweet-smelling  darkness  with  troubled  eyes. 
He  was  going  tomorrow.  He  couldn't  skulk  any  more. 
—Oh,  reasonless  thirst  in  the  night,  what  can  slake  your  thirst, 
Reasonless  heart,  why  will  you  not  let  me  rest? 
I  have  seen  a  woman  wrapped  in  the  grace  of  leaves, 
I  have  kissed  her  mouth  with  my  mouth,  but  1  must  go- 
He  was  going  back  to  find  a  piece  of  himself 
That  he  had  lost  in  a  tent,  in  a  red  loud  noise, 
Under  a  sack  of  tobacco.  Until  he  found  it 
He  could  never  be  whole  again 

—but  the  hunger  creeps 

Like  a  vine  about  me,  crushing  my  narrow  wisdom, 
Crushing  my  thoughts- 
He  couldn't  stay  with  Melora. 
He  couldn't  take  her  back  home.  If  he  were  Bailey 
He  would  know  what  to  do.  He  would  follow  the  weaver's  tune. 
He  would  keep  Melora  a  night  from  the  foggy  dew 
And  then  go  oif  with  the  sunrise  to  tell  the  tale 
Sometime  for  a  campfire  yarn.  But  he  wasn't  Bailey. 
He  saw  himself  dead  without  ever  having  Melora 
And  he  didn't  like  it. 

Maybe,  after  the  war. 

Maybe  he  could  come  back  to  the  hider's  place, 
Maybe— it  is  a  long  time  till  after  the  war 
And  this  is  now— you  took  a  girl  when  you  found  her— 
A  girl  with  flags  on  her  garters  or  a  new  girl- 
It  didn't  matter— it  made  a  good  campfire  yarn- 
It  was  men  and  women— Bailey— the  weaver's  tune- 
He  heard  something  move  and  rustle  in  the  close  darkness 
"What's  that?"  he  said.  He  got  no  answering  voice 
But  he  knew  what  it  was.  He  saw  a  light-footed  shadow 


Come  toward  the  nest  where  he  lay.  For  a  moment  then 
He  felt  weak,  half-sickened  almost. 

Then  his  heart  began 

To  pound  to  a  marching  rhythm  that  was  not  harsh 
Nor  sweet,  but  enormous  cadence. 

"Melora,"  he  said. 
His  hand  went  out  and  touched  the  cup  of  her  breast. 

What  things  shall  be  said  of  you, 
Terrible  beauty  in  armor? 
What  things  shall  be  said  of  you, 
Horses  riding  the  sky? 
The  fleetness,  the  molten  speed, 
The  rhythm  rising  like  beaten 
Drums  of  barbaric  gold 
Until  fire  mixes  with  fire? 

The  night  is  a  sparkling  pit 
Where  Time  no  longer  has  power 
But  only  vast  cadence  surging 
Toward  an  instant  of  tiny  death. 
Then,  with  the  slow  withdrawal 
Of  seas  from  a  rock  of  moonlight, 
The  clasping  bodies  unlock 
And  the  lovers  have  little  words. 

What  is  this  spear,  this  burnished 

Arrow  in  the  deep  waters 

That  is  not  quenched  by  them 

Until  it  has  found  its  mark? 

What  is  this  beating  of  wings 

In  the  formless  heart  of  the  tempest? 

This  wakening  of  a  sun 

That  was  not  wakened  before? 

They  have  dragged  you  down  from  the  sky 

And  broken  you  with  an  ocean 

Because  you  carried  the  day, 

Phaeton,  charioteer. 

But  still  you  loose  from  the  cloud 


The  matched  desires  of  your  horses 
And  sow  on  the  ripened  earth 
The  quickened,  the  piercing  flame. 

What  things  shall  be  said  of  you, 
Terrible  beauty  in  armor? 
Dance  that  is  not  a  dance, 
Brief  instant  of  welded  swords. 
For  a  moment  we  strike  the  black 
Door  with  a  fist  of  brightness. 
And  then  it  is  over  and  spent, 
And  we  sink  back  into  life. 

Back  to  the  known,  the  sure, 
The  river  of  sleep  and  waking, 
The  dreams  floating  the  river, 
The  nearness,  the  conquered  peace. 
You  have  come  and  smitten  and  passed, 
Poniard,  poniard  of  sharpness. 
The  child  sleeps  in  the  planet. 
The  blood  sleeps  again. 

He  wasn't  going  away  when  he  went  to  the  wood. 

He  told  himself  that.  They  had  broken  the  dime  together. 

They  had  cut  the  heart  on  the  tree. 

The  jack-knife  cut 

Two  pinched  half -circles  of  white  on  the  green  bark. 
The  tree-gum  bled  from  the  cuts  in  sticky,  clear  drops, 
And  there  you  were. 

And  shortly  the  bark  would  dry 
Dead  on  the  living  wood  and  leave  the  white  heart 
All  through  the  winter,  all  through  the  rain  and  snow, 
A  phantom-blaze  to"  guide  a  tall  phantom-hunter 
Who  came  in  lightness  along  a  leaf-buried  path. 
All  through  the  snowing  winter  it  would  be  white. 
It  would  take  many  springs  to  cover  that  white  again. 
What  have  I  done  in  idleness,  in  sweet  idleness, 
What  have  I  done  to  the  forest? 

I  have  marked 
A  tree  to  be  my  own  with  a  jack-knife  blade 


In  idleness,  in  sweet  idleness.  I  have  loosed 
A  dryad  out  of  the  tree  to  chain  me  with  wild 
Grapevines  and  forest  trailers  forever  and  ever 
To  the  hider's  place,  to  the  outcast  house  of  the  lost, 
And  now,  when  I  would  be  free,  I  am  free  no  more. 
He  thought  of  practical  matters.  There  ought  to  be 
A  preacher  and  a  gold  ring  and  a  wedding-dress, 
Only  how  could  there  be? 

He  rolled  hard  words 

Over  his  tongue.  "A  shotgun  wedding,"  he  said. 
It  wasn't  like  that,  it  never  could  be  like  that, 
But  there  was  a  deadly  likeness. 

He  saw  the  bored 

Shamefaced  seducer  in  the  clean  Sunday  collar, 
The  whining,  pregnant  slut  in  the  cheesecloth  veil. 
They  weren't  like  that—but  the  picture  colored  his  mind. 

If  he  only  could  go  away  without  going  away 
And  have  everything  turn  out  just  as  it  ought  to  be 
Without  rings  or  hiding! 

He  told  himself  "I'm  all  right. 
I'm  not  like  Bailey.  I  wouldn't  sleep  with  a  girl 
Who  never  slept  with  anybody  before 
And  then  just  go  off  and  leave  her/' 

But  it  was  Melora. 

It  wasn't  seducing  a  girl.  It  was  all  mixed  up. 
All  real  where  it  ought  to  be  something  told  in  a  sermon, 
And  all  unreal  when  you  had  to  do  something  about  it, 
His  thoughts  went  round  and  round  like  rats  in  a  cage, 
But  all  he  knew  was— 

he  was  sick  for  a  room 
And  a  red  tablecloth  with  tasselled  fringes, 
Where  a  wife  knitted  on  an  end  of  a  scarf, 
A  father  read  his  paper  through  the  same 
Unchanging  spectacles  with  the  worn  bows 
And  a  young  girl  beneath  a  nickeled  lamp 
Soundlessly  conjugated  Latin  verbs, 
"Amo,  amas,  amat,"  and  still  no  sound- 
Slight  dryad,  trailing  the  green,  curled  vines  of  the  Spring, 
I  hate  you  for  this  moment,  I  hate  your  white  breast 
And  idleness,  sweet,  hidden  idleness— 


He  started  awake.  He  had  been  walking  through  dreams. 
How  far  had  he  come?  He  studied  the  sun  and  the  trees. 
Was  he  lost?  No,  there  was  the  way. 

He  turned  back  slowly, 

To  the  dryad,  the  idleness— to  the  cheesecloth  veil, 
The  incredible  preacher,  the  falling  out  of  life. 
He'd  ask  her  this  evening  where  you  could  find  such  preachers. 
The  old  man  mustn't  know  till  the  thing  was  done 
Or  he  would  turn  to  a  father  out  of  a  cheap 
Play,  a  cheap  shotgun  father  with  a  wool  beard 
Roaring  gilt  rhetoric—and  loading  a  musket. 
He  got  the  dry  grins. 

If  the  property-father  shot  him 
Would  they  carve  his  name  on  the  soldiers'  monument 
After  the  war? 

There  should  be  a  special  tablet. 
"Here  lies  John  Ellyat  Junior,  shot  and  killed 
By  an  angry  father  for  the  great  cause  of  Union. 
'How  sleep  the  brave.'  " 

He  stumbled  and  looked  around  him. 
"Well,  I  might  go  on  as  far  as  the  road,"  he  said. 

A  little  while  later  he  burst  through  the  screen  of  brush. 
And  saw  the  highroad  below  him. 

He  wiped  his  face. 

The  road  dipped  down  a  hill  to  a  little  bridge. 
He  was  safe  enough  now. 

What  was  it  Melora  had  said? 
The  highroad  was  six  miles  away  from  the  farm, 
Due  west,  and  he  could  tell  the  west  by  the  sun. 
He  must  have  covered  a  dozen,  finding  the  road, 
But  getting  back  would  be  easy. 

The  sun  was  high. 

He  ought  to  be  starting  soon.  But  he  lay  down 
And  stared  for  a  while  at  the  road.  It  was  good  to  see 
A  road  in  the  open  again,  a  dust-bitten  road 
Where  people  and  horses  went  along  to  a  town. 
-Dryad,  deep  in  the  woods,  your  trails  are  small, 
Winding  and  faint— they  run  between  grass  and  flowers— 
But  it  is  good  once  more  to  come  on  a  road 
That  is  not  drowsy  with  your  idleness— 


He  looked  down  toward  the  bridge.  There  were  moving  blobs 

of  dust 

Crossing  it—men  on  horses.  His  heart  gave  a  strange 
Throb  of  desire.  What  were  they?  They  looked  like  soldiers. 
Blue  coats  or  grey?  He  could  not  tell  for  the  dust. 
He'd  have  to  get  back  in  the  woods  before  they  passed, 
He  was  a  hider  now.  But  he  kept  on  staring 
A  long  two  minutes,  trying  to  make  them  out, 
Till  his  eyes  stung.  One  man  had-  a  yellow  beard 
And  carried  his  rifle  slung  the  Missouri  way 
But  there  were  Missouri  troops  on  either  side. 
In  a  minute  he  could  tell—and  wriggle  away— 

A  round  stick  jabbed  in  his  back. 

A  slow  voice  said 

"Reach  for  the  sky,  Yank,  or  I'll  nachully  drill  yuh." 
His  hands  flew  up. 

"Yuh're  the  hell  of  a  scout,"  said  the  voice 
With  drawling  scorn.  "Yuh  h'ain't  even  got  a  gun. 
I  could  have  picked  yuh  off  ten  minutes  ago, 
Yuh  made  more  noise  than  a  bear,  bustin  thru*  that  bresh. 
What'd  yuh  ust  to  work  at— wrappin'  up  corsets? 
Yeah— yuh  kin  turn  around." 

Jack  Ellyat  turned 

"Well,  I'll  be  damned,"  said  the  boy 
In  butternut  clothes  with  the  wrinkled  face  of  a  leaf. 
"Yuh're  a  young  'un  all  right— aw,  well,  don't  take  it  so  hard. 
Our  boys  get  captured,  too.  Hey,  Billy!"  he  called, 
"Got  a  Yankee  scout." 

The  horse-hoofs  stopped  in  the  road. 
"Well,  bring  him  along,"  said  a  voice. 

Jack  Ellyat  slid 

Down  a  little  bank  and  stood  in  front  of  the  horses. 
He  was  dazed.  This  was  not  happening.  But  the  horses 
Were  there,  the  butternut  men  on  the  horseS"  were  there. 

A  gaunt  old  man  with  a  sour,  dry  mouth  was  talking, 
"He's  no  scout,"  he  said,  "He's  one  of  their  lousy  spies. 
Don't  he  look  like  a  spy?  Let's  string  him  up  to  a  tree." 
His  eye  roved,  looking  for  a  suitable  branch, 


His  mouth  seemed  pleased. 

Ellyat  saw  two  little  scooped  dishes, 
Hung  on  a  balance,  wavering  in  the  air. 
One  was  bright  tin  and  carried  his  life  and  breath, 
The  other  was  black.  They  were  balanced  with  dreadful  even- 
But  now  the  black  dish  trembled,  starting  to  fall. 

"Hell,  no,"  said  the  boy  with  the  face  like  a  wrinkled  leaf. 
"He's  a  scout  all  right.  What  makes  yuh  so  savage,  Ben? 
Yuh're  always  hankerin'  after  a  necktie-party. 
Who  captured  the  bugger  anyhow?" 

"Oh,  well," 

Said  the  other  man.  "Oh,  well."  He  spat  in  the  dust. 
"Anyhow,"  he  said,  with  a  hungry  look  at  Ellyat, 
"He's  got  good  boots." 

The  boy  with  the  wrinkled  face 
Remarked  that,  as  for  the  boots,  no  Arkansaw  catfish 
Was  going  to  take  them  away  from  their  lawful  captor. 

The  rest  sat  their  horses  loosely  and  looked  at  him 
With  mild  curiosity,  ruminating  tobacco. 
Ellyat  tried  to  think.  He  could  not  think. 

He  was  free, 

These  stuffless  men  on  stuffless  horses  had  freed  him 
From  dryads  and  fathers,  from  cheesecloth  veils  and  Melora. 
He  began  to  talk  fast.  He  didn't  hear  what  he  said. 
"But  I've  got  to  get  back,"  he  said.  Then  he  stopped.  They 


"Oh,  yuh'll  get  over  it,  Bub,"  said  the  wrinkled  boy, 
"It  ain't  so  bad.  You  won't  have  to  fight  no  more. 
Maybe  yuh'll  git  exchanged.  Git  up  on  that  horse. 
No,  take  off  them  boots  first,  thanks." 

He  slung  the  boots 

Around  his  neck.  "Now  I  got  some  good  boots,"  he  said. 
And  grinned  at  the  gaunt  man  with  the  sour  mouth. 
"Now,  Bub,  I'll  just  tie  yuh  a  little  with  this  yere  rope 
And  then  you  won't  be  bustin'  loose  from  the  gang. 
Grab  the  pommel  as  well  as  yuh  kin." 

The  gaunt  man  coughed* 
"I  tell  you,"  he  said,  in  a  disappointed  voice, 
"If  we  just  strung  him  up  it'd  make  things  a  hull  lot  easier. 


He's  a  spy  for  sure,  and  everyone  strings  up  spies. 
We  got  a  long  piece  to  go  yet  and  he's  a  nuisance.'* 

"Aw,  shut  yore  face/'  said  Jim  Breckinridge  in  a  drawl, 
"Yuh  kin  hang  any  Yanks  yuh  ketch  on  a  piece  uh  dishrag, 
Yuh  ain't  caught  no  armies  yit." 

The  gaunt  man  was  silent. 

Ellyat  saw  the  little  tin  dish  that  carried  the  life 
Slowly  sink  down,  to  safety,  the  black  dish  rise. 
"Come  on,"  said  Billy.  The  horses  started  to  move, 
Stirring  a  dust  that  rose  for  a  little  while 
In  a  faint  cloud.  But  after  the  horses  had  gone, 
The  cloud  settled,  the  road  went  to  sleep  again. 


Strike  up,  strike  up  for  Wingate's  tune, 

Strike  up  for  Sally  Dupre! 

Strike  up,  strike  up  for  the  April  moon, 

And  the  rain  on  the  lilac  spray! 

For  Wingate  Hall  in  its  pride  once  more, 

For  the  branch  of  myrtle  over  the  door, 

Because  the  men  are  back  from  the  war; 

For  the  clean  bed  waiting  the  dusty  rider 

And  the  punchbowl  cooling  for  thirsty  throttles, 

For  the  hot  cooks  boiling  the  hams  in  cider 

And  Cudjo  grinning  at  cobwebbed  bottles— 

The  last  of  the  wine,  the  last  of  the  wine, 

The  last  of  the  '12  and  the  '29! 

Three  times  voyaged  around  the  Cape 

Till  old  Judge  Brooke,  with  an  oath  oracular, 

Pronounced  it  the  living  soul  of  the  grape, 

And  the  veriest  dregs  to  be  superhacular! 

Old  Judge  Brooke  with  his  double  chins 
Sighing  over  his  hoarded  claret 
And  sending  the  last  of  his  cherished  bins 
To  the  hospital-doctors  with  "I  can  spare  it 
But  if  you  give  it  to  some  damned  layman 
Who  doesn't  know  brandy  from  licorice-water 

And  sports  a  white  ribbon,  by  fire  and  slaughter, 
111  hang  the  lot  of  you  higher  than  Haman!" 

The  Wingate  cellars  are  nearly  bare 

But  Miss  Louisa  is  doing  her  hair 

In  the  latest  style  of  Napoleon's  court. 

(A  blockade-runner  brought  the  report, 

A  blockade-runner  carried  the  silk, 

Heavy  as  bullion  and  white  as  milk, 

That  makes  Amanda  a  gleaming  moth. 

For  the  coasts  are  staked  with  a  Union  net 

But  the  dark  fish  slip  through  the  meshes  yet, 

Shadows  sliding  without  a  light, 

Through  the  dark  of  the  moon,  in  the  dead  of  night, 

Carrying  powder,  carrying  cloth, 

Hoops  for  the  belle  and  guns  for  the  fighter, 

Guncotton,  opium,  bombs  and  tea. 

Fashionplates,  quinine  and  history. 

For  Charleston's  corked  with  a  Northern  fleet 

And  the  Bayou  City  lies  at  the  feet 

Of  a  damn-the-torpedoes  commodore; 

The  net  draws  tighter  and  ever  tighter, 

But  the  fish  dart  past  till  the  end  of  the  war, 

From  Wilmington  to  the  Rio  Grande, 

And  the  sandy  Bahamas  are  Dixie  Land 

Where  the  crammed,  black  shadows  start  for  the  trip 

That,  once  clean-run,  will  pay  for  the  ship. 

They  are  caught,  they  are  sunk  with  all  aboard. 

They  scrape  through  safely  and  praise  the  Lord, 

Ready  to  start  with  the  next  jammed  hold 

To  pull  Death's  whiskers  out  in  the  cold, 

The  unrecorded  skippers  and  mates 

Whom  even  their  legend  expurgates, 

The  tough  daredevils  from  twenty  ports 

Who  thumbed  their  noses  at  floating  forts 

And  gnawed  through  the  bars  of  a  giant's  cage 

For  a  cause  or  a  laugh  or  a  living-wage, 

Who  five  long  years  on  a  sea  of  night, 

Pumped  new  blood  to  the  vein  bled  white 

—And,  incidentally,  made  the  money 

For  the  strangely  rich  of  the  after  years— 

For  the  flies  wifi  come  to  the  open  honey, 

And,  should  war  and  hell  have  the  same  dimensions, 
Both  have  been  paved  with  the  best  intentions 
And  both  are  as  full  of  profiteers.) 

The  slaves  in  the  quarters  are  buzzing  and  talking. 
—All  through  the  winter  the  ha'nts  went  walking, 
Ha'nts  the  size  of  a  horse  or  bigger, 
Ghost-patrollers,  scaring  a  nigger, 
But  now  the  winter's  over  and  broken, 
And  the  sun  shines  out  like  a  lovin'  token, 
There's  goin'  to  be  mixin's  and  mighty  doin's, 
Chicken-fixin's  and  barbecuin's, 
Old  Marse  Billy's  a-comin'  home! 
He's  slewn  a  brigade  with  a  ha'nts's  jaw-bone, 
i  He's  slewn  an  army  with  one  long  sabre, 
He's  scared  old  Linkum  'most  to  death, 
Now  he's  comin'  home  to  rest  from  he  labor, 
Play  on  he  fiddle  and  catch  he  breath! 

The  little  black  children  with  velvet  eyes 

Tell  each  other  tremendous  lies. 

They  play  at  Manassas  with  guns  of  peeled 

Willow-stalks  from  the  River  Field, 

Chasing  the  Yanks  into  Kingdom  Come 

While  one  of  them  beats  on  a  catskin  drum. 

They  are  happy  because  they  don't  know  why. 

They  scare  themselves  pretending  to  die, 

But  all  through  the  scare,  and  before  and  after, 

Their  voices  are  rich  with  the  ancient  laughter, 

The  negro  laughter,  the  blue-black  rose, 

The  laughter  that  doesn't  end  with  the  lips 

But  shakes  the  belly  and  curls  the  toes 

And  prickles  the  end  of  the  fingertips. 

Up  through  the  garden,  in  through  the  door, 

Tnat  undercurrent  of  laughter  floats, 

It  mounts  like  a  sea  from  floor  to  floor, 

A  dark  sea,  covering  painted  boats, 

A  warm  sea,  smelling  of  earth  and  grass, 

It  seeps  through  the  back  of  the  cheval-glass 

Where  Amanda  stares  at  her  stately  self 

Till  her  eves  are  bright  with  a  different  spark, 


It  sifts  like  a  dye,  where  Louise's  peering 

In  a  shagreen-case  for  a  garnet  ear-ring 

Till  the  little  jewels  shine  in  the  dark, 

It  spills  like  a  wave  in  the  crowded  kitchen 

Where  the  last  good  sugar  of  Wingate  Hall 

Is  frosting  a  cake  like  a  Polar  Highland 

And  fat  Aunt  Bess  in  her  ice-wool  shawl 

Spends  the  hoarded  knowledge  her  heart  is  rich  in 

On  oceans  of  trifle  and  floating-island. 

Fat  Aunt  Bess  is  older  than  Time 

But  her  eyes  still  shine  like  a  bright,  new  dime, 

Though  two  generations  have  gone  to  rest 

On  the  sleepy  mountain  of  her  breast. 

Wingate  children  in  Wingate  Hall, 

From  the  first  weak  cry  in  the  bearing-bed 

She  has  petted  and  punished  them,  one  and  all, 

She  has  closed  their  eyes  when  they  lay  dead. 

She  raised  Marse  Billy  when  he  was  puny, 

She  cared  for  the  Squire  when  he  got  loony, 

Fed  him  and  washed  him  and  combed  his  head, 

Nobody  else  would  do  instead. 

The  matriarch  of  the  weak  and  the  young, 

The  lazy  crooning,  comforting  tongue. 

She  has  had  children  of  her  own, 

But  the  white-skinned  ones  are  bone  of  her  bone. 

They  may  n6t  be  hers,  but  she  is  theirs, 

And  if  the  shares  were  unequal  shares, 

She  does  not  know  it,  now  she  is  old. 

They  will  keep  her  out  of  the  rain  and  cold. 

And  some  were  naughty,  and  some  were  good, 

But  she  will  be  warm  while  they  have  wood, 

Rule  them  and  spoil  them  and  play  physician 

With  the  vast,  insensate  force  of  tradition, 

Half  a  nuisance  and  half  a  mother 

And  legally  neither  one  nor  the  other, 

Till  at  last  they  follow  her  to  her  grave, 

The  family-despot,  and  the  slave. 

—Curious  blossom  from  bitter  ground, 
Master  of  masters  who  left  you  bound, 
Who  shall  unravel  the  mingled  strands 


Or  read  the  anomaly  of  your  hands? 

They  have  made  you  a  shrine  and  a  humorous  fable, 

But  they  kept  you  a  slave  while  they  were  able, 

And  yet,  there  was  something  between  the  two 

That  you  shared  with  them  and  they  shared  with  you, 

Brittle  and  dim,  but  a  streak  of  gold, 

A  genuine  kindness,  unbought,  unsold, 

Graciousness  founded  on  hopeless  wrong 

But  queerly  living  and  queerly  strong.  .  .  . 

There  were  three  stout  pillars  that  held  up  all 

The  weight  and  tradition  of  Wingate  Hall. 

One  was  Cud  jo  and  one  was  you 

And  the  third  was  the  mistress,  Mary  Lou. 

Mary  Lou  Wingate,  as  slightly  made 

And  as  hard  to  break  as  a  rapier-blade. 

Bristol's  daughter  and  Wingate's  bride, 

Never  well  since  the  last  child  died 

But  staring  at  pain  with  courteous  eyes. 

When  the  pain  outwits  it,  the  body  dies, 

Meanwhile  the  body  bears,  the  pain. 

She  loved  her  hands  and  they  made  her  vain, 

The  tiny  hands  of  her  generation 

That  gathered  the  reins  of  the  whole  plantation; 

The  velvet  sheathing  the  steel  demurdy 

In  the  trained,  light  grip  that  holds  so  surely. 

She  was  at  work  by  candlelight, 

She  was  at  work  in  the  dead  of  night, 

Smoothing  out  troubles  and  healing  schisms 

And  doctoring  phthisics  and  rheumatisms, 

Guiding  the  cooking  and  watching  the  baking, 

The  sewing,  the  soap-and-candle-making, 

The  brewing,  the  darning,  the  lady-daughters, 

The  births  and  deaths  in  the  negro-quarters, 

Seeing  that  Suke  had  some  new,  strong  shoes 

And  Joe  got  a  week  in  the  calaboose, 

While  Dicey's  Jacob  escaped  a  whipping 

And  the  jellybag  dripped  with  its  proper  dripping, 

And  the  shirts  and  estrangements  were  neatly  mended, 

And  all  of  the  tasks  that  never  ended. 


Her  manner  was  gracious  but  hardly^fervent 

And  she  seldom  raised  her  voice  to  a  servant. 

She  was  often  mistaken,  not  often  blind, 

And  she  knew  the  whole  duty  of  womankind, 

To  take  the  burden  and  have  the  power 

And  seem  like  the  well-protected  flower, 

To  manage  a  dozen  industries 

With  a  casual  gesture  in  scraps  of  ease, 

To  hate  the  sin  and  to  love  the  sinner 

And  to  see  that  the  gentlemen  got  their  dinner 

Ready  and  plenty  and  piping-hot 

Whether  you  wanted  to  eat  or  not. 

And  always,  always,  to  have  the  charm 

That  makes  the  gentlemen  take  your  arm 

But  never  the  bright,  unseemly  spell 

That  makes  strange  gentlemen  love  too  well, 

Once  you  were  married  and  settled  down 

With  a  suitable  gentleman  of  your  own. 

And  when  that  happened,  and  you  had  bred 
The  requisite  children,  living  and  dead, 
To  pity  the  fool  and  comfort  the  weak 
And  always  let  the  gentlemen  speak 
To  succor  your  love  from  deep-struck  roots 
When  gentlemen  went  to  bed  in  their  boots, 
And  manage  a  gentleman's  whole  plantation 
In  the  manner  befitting  your  female  station. 

This  was  the  creed  that  her  mother  taught  her 
And  the  creed  that  she  taught  to  every  daughter. 
I  She  knew  her  Bible— and  how  to  flirt 
With  a  swansdown  fan  and  a  brocade  skirt. 
For  she  trusted  in  God  but  she  liked  formalities 
And  the  world  and  Heaven  were  both  realities. 
—In  Heaven,  of  course,  we  should  all  be  equal, 
But,  until  we  came  to  that  golden  sequel, 
Gentility  must  keep  to  gentility 
Where  God  and  breeding  had  made  things  stable, 
While  the  rest  of  the  cosmos  deserved  civility 
But  dined  in  its  boots  at  the  second-table. 
This  view  may  be  reckoned  a  trifle  narrow, 
But  it  had  the  driving  force  of  an  arrow, 


And  it  helped  Mary  Lou  to  stand  up  straight, 

For  she  was  gentle,  but  she  could  hate 

And  she  hated  the  North  with  the  hate  of  Jael 

When  the  dry  hot  hands  went  seeking  the  nail, 

The  terrible  hate  of  women's  ire, 

The  smoky,  the  long-consuming  fire. 

The  Yankees  were  devils,  and  she  could  pray, 

For  devils,  no  doubt,  upon  Judgment  Day, 

But  now  in  the  world,  she  would  hate  them  still 

And  send  the  gentlemen  out  to  kill. 

The  gentlemen  killed  and  the  gentlemen  died, 
But  she  was  the  South's  incarnate  pride 
That  mended  the  broken  gentlemen 
And  sent  them  out  to  the  wrar  again, 
That  kept  the  house  with  the  men  away 
And  baked  the  bricks  where  there  was  no  clay, 
Made  courage  from  terror  and  bread  from  bran 
And  propped  the  South  on  a  swansdown  fan 
Through  four  long  years  of  ruin  and  stress, 
The  pride—and  the  deadly  bitterness. 

Let  us  look  at  her  now,  let  us  see  her  plain, 

She  will  never  be  quite  like  this  again. 

Her  house  is  rocking  under  the  blast 

And  she  hears  it  tremble,  and  still  stands  fast, 

But  this  is  the  last,  this  is  the  last. 

The  last  of  the  wine  and  the  white  corn  meal, 

The  last  high  fiddle  singing  the  reel, 

The  last  of  the  silk  with  the  Paris  label, 

The  last  blood-thoroughbred  safe  in  the  stable 

.—Yellow  corn  meal  and  a  jackass  colt, 

A  door  that  swings  on  a  broken  bolt, 

Brittle  old  letters  spotted  with  tears 

An4  a  wound  that  rankles  for  fifty  years— 

This  is  the  last  of  Wingate  Hall, 

The  last  bright  August  before  the  Fall, 

Death  has  been  near,  and  Death  has  passed, 

But  this  is  the  last,  this  is  the  last. 

There  will  be  hope,  and  a  scratching  pen, 

There  will  be  cooking  for  tired  men, 

The  waiting  for  news  with  shut,  hard  fists, 


And  the  blurred,  strange  names  in  the  battle-lists, 
The  April  sun  and  the  April  rain, 
But  never  this  day  come  back  again. 

But  she  is  lucky,  she  does  not  see 
The  axe-blade  sinking  into  the  tree 
Day  after  day,  with  a  slow,  sure  stroke 
Till  it  chops  the  mettle  from  Wingate  oak. 
The  house  is  busy,  the  cups  are  filling 
To  welcome  the  gentlemen  back  from  killing, 
,  The  hams  are  boiled  and  the  chickens  basting, 
Fat  Aunt  Bess  is  smiling  and  tasting, 
Cud  jo's  napkin  is  superfine, 
He  knows  how  the  gentlemen  like  their  wine, 
Amanda  is  ready,  Louisa  near  her, 
Glistering  girls  from  a  silver  mirror, 
Everyone  talking,  everyone  scurrying, 
Upstairs  and  downstairs,  laughing  and  hurrying, 
Everyone  giving  and  none  denying, 
There  is  only  living,  there  is  no  dying. 
War  is  a  place  but  it  is  not  here, 
The  peace  and  the  victory  are  too  near. 
One  more  battle,  and  Washington  taken, 
The  Yankees  mastered,  the  South  unshaken, 
Fiddlers  again,  and  the  pairing  season, 
The  old-time  rhyme  and  the  old-time  reason, 
The  grandchildren,  and  the  growing  older 
Till  at  last  you  need  a  gentleman's  shoulder, 
And  the  pain  can  stop,  for  the  frayed  threads  sever, 
But  the  house  and  the  courtesy  last  forever. 

So  Wingate  found  it,  riding  at  ease, 

The  cloud-edge  lifting  over  the  trees, 

A  white-sail  glimmer  beyond  the  rise, 

A  sugar-castle  that  strained  the  eyes, 

Then  mounting,  mounting,  the  shining  spectre 

Risen  at  last  from  the  drop  of  nectar, 

The  cloud  expanding,  the  topsails  swelling, 

The  doll's  house  grown  to  a  giant's  dwelling, 

Porches  and  gardens  and  ells  and  wings 

Linking  together  like  puzzle-rings, 


Till  the  parts  dissolved  in  a  steadfast  whole, 
And  Wingate  saw  it,  body  and  soul. 

Saw  it  completely,  and  saw  it  gleam, 

The  full-rigged  vessel,  the  sailing  dream, 

The  brick  and  stone  that  were  somehow  quick 

With  a  ghost  not  native  to  stone  and  brick, 

The  name  held  high  and  the  gift  passed  on 

From  Wingate  father  to  Wingate  son, 

No  longer  a  house  but  a  conjur-stone 

That  could  hate  and  sorrow  and  hold  its  own 

As  long  as  the  seed  of  Elspeth  Mackay 

Could  mix  its  passion  with  Wingate  clay 

And  the  wind  and  the  river  had  memories.  .  .  . 

Wingate  saw  it  ail-but  with  altered  eyes. 
He  was  not  yet  broken  on  any  wheel, 
He  had  no  wound  of  the  flesh  to  heal, 
He  had  seen  one  battle,  but  he  was  still 
The  corn  unground  by  the  watermill, 
He  had  ridden  the  rainy  winter  through 
And  he  and  Black  Whistle  were  good  as  new, 
The  Black  Horse  Troop  still  carried  its  pride 
And  rode  as  the  Yankees  could  not  ride, 
But,  when  he  remembered  a  year-old  dawn, 
Something  had  come  and  something  gone, 
And  even  now,  when  he  smelt  the  Spring, 
And  his  heart  was  hot  with  his  homecoming, 
There  was  a  whisper  in  his  ear 
That  said  what  he  did  not  wish  to  hear, 
"This  is  the  last,  this  is  the  last;, 
Hurry,  hurry,  this  is  the  last,  ' 
Drink  the  wine  before  yours  is  spilled, 
Kiss  the  sweetheart  before  you're  killed, 
She  will  be  loving,  and  she  will  grieve, 
And  wear  your  heart  on  her  golden  sleeve 
And  marry  your  friend  when  he  gets  his  leave. 
It  does  not  matter  that  you  are  still 
The  corn  unground  by  the  watermill, 
The  stones  grind  till  they  get  their  will. 
Pluck  the  flower  that  hands  can  pluck, 
Touch  the  walls  of  your  house  for  luck, 

Eat  of  the  fat  and  drink  the  sweet, 
There  is  little  savor  in  dead  men's  meat. 
It  does  not  matter  that  you  once  knew 
Future  and  past  and  a  different  you, 
That  went  by  when  the  wind  first  blew. 
There  is  no  future,  there  is  no  past, 
There  is  only  this  hour  and  it  goes  fast, 
Hurry,  hurry,  this  is  the  last, 
This  is  the  last, 
This  is  the  last." 

He  heard  it  and  faced  it  and  let  it  talk. 
The  tired  horses  dropped  to  a  walk. 
And  then  Black  Whistle  lunged  at  the  bit 
And  whinnied  because  he  was  alive, 
And  he  saw  the  porch  where  the  evenings  sit 
And  the  tall  magnolias  shading  the  drive, 
He  heard  the  bell  of  his  father's  mirth, 
"Tallyho,  Yanks— we've  gone  to  earth! 
Home,  boy,  home  to  Wingate  Hall, 
Home  in  spite  of  them,  damn  them  all!" 
He  was  stabbed  by  the  rays  of  the  setting  sun, 
He  felt  Black  Whistle  break  to  a  run, 
And  then  he  was  really  there  again, 
Before  he  had  time  to  think  or  check, 
And  a  boy  was  holding  his  bridle-rein, 
And  Mary  Lou's  arms  were  around  his  neck. 

Sally  Dupre  and  Wingate  talk  with  the  music.  .  .  . 

The  dance.  Such  a  lovely  dance.  But  you  dance  so  lightly. 

Amanda  dances  so  well.  But  you  dance  so  lightly. 

(Do  you  remember  the  other  dance? ) 

Phil  Ferrier  was  here,  remember,  last  year. 

(He  danced  with  me.  He  could  dance  rather  well.  He  is  dead.) 

We  were  all  so  sorry  when  we  heard  about  Phil. 

(How  long  will  you  live  and  be  able  to  dance  with  me?) 

Yes.  Phil  was  a  fine  fellow.  We  all  liked  Phil. 

(Do  not  talk  of  the  dead. 

At  first  we  talk  of  the  dead,  we  write  of  the  dead, 

We  send  their  things  to  their  people  when  we  can  find  them, 


We  write  letters  to  you  about  them,  we  say  we  liked  him, 

He  fought  well,  he  died  bravely,  here  is  his  sword, 

Here  is  his  pistol,  his  letters,  his  photograph  case; 

You  will  like  to  have  these  things,  they  will  do  instead. 

But  the  war  goes  on  too  long. 

After  a  while  you  still  want  to  talk  of  the  dead. 

But  we  are  too  tired.  We  will  send  you  the  pistol  still, 

The  photograph-case,  the  knickknacks,  if  we  can  find  them, 

But  the  war  has  gone  on  too  long. 

We  cannot  talk  to  you  still,  as  we  used  to,  about  the  dead.) 

Nancy  Huguenot's  here  tonight.  Have  you  danced  with  her  yet? 

She  didn't  want  to  come.  She  was  brave  to  come. 

(Phil  Ferrier  was  Nancy's  lover. 

She  sent  him  off.  She  cut  her  hair  for  a  keepsake. 

They  were  going  to  be  married  as  soon  as  he  came  back. 

For  a  long  time  she  dressed  in  black. 

Then  one  morning  she  rose,  and  looked  at  the  sun  on  the  wall, 

She  put  on  a  dress  with  red  sleeves  and  a  red,  striped  shawl, 

She  said  "Phil  was  my  beau.  He  wouldn't  have  liked  me  in  black." 

She  used  to  cry  quite  a  lot  but  she  hasn't  cried  much  since  then. 

I  think  she'll  get  well  and  marry  somebody  else. 

I  think  she's  right.  If  I  had  to  wear  grief  for  a  lover, 

I  wouldn't  wear  black. 

I  would  wear  my  best  green  silk  and  my  Empire  sacque 

And  walk  in  the  garden  at  home  and  feel  the  wind 

Blow  through  my  rags  of  honor  forever  and  ever. 

And  after  that,  when  I  married  some  other  beau, 

I  would  make  a  good  wife  and  raise  my  children  on  sweet 

Milk,  not  on  poison,  though  it  might  have  been  so. 

And  my  husband  would  never  know 

When  he  turned  to  me,  when  I  kissed  him,  when  we  were  kind, 

When  I  cleaned  his  coat,  when  we  talked  about  dresses  and 


He  had  married  something  that  belonged  to  the  wind 
And  felt  the  blind 

And  always  stream  of  that  wind  on  her  too-light  bones, 
Neither  fast  nor  slow,  but  never  checked  or  resigned, 
Blowing  through  rags  of  honor  forever  and  ever.) 

They  are  calling  for  partners  again.  Shall  we  dance  again? 
(Why  do  we  hate  each  other  so  well,  when  we 
Are  tied  together  by  something  that  will  not  free  us? 

If  I  see  you  across  a  room,  I  will  go  to  you, 

If  you  see  me  across  a  room,  you  will  come  to  me, 

And  yet  we  hate  each  other.) 

Not  yet,  for  a  minute.  I  want  to  watch  for  a  minute. 

(I  do  not  hate  you.  I  love  you.  But  you  must  take  me. 

I  will  not  take  your  leavings  nor  you  my  pity. 

I  must  break  you  first  for  a  while  and  you  must  break  me. 

We  are  too  strong  to  love  the  surrendered  city. 

So  we  hate  each  other.) 

That's  a  pretty  girl  over  there.  Beautiful  hair. 

(She  is  the  porcelain  you  play  at  being.) 

Yes,  isn't  she.  Her  name  is  Lucy  Weatherby. 

(I  hate  her  hair.  I  hate  her  porcelain  air.) 

She  can't  be  from  the  county  or  I'd  remember  her. 

(I  know  that  kind  of  mouth.  Your  mouth  is  not  that. 

Your  mouth  is  generous  and  bitter  and  sweet. 

If  I  kissed  your  mouth,  I  would  have  to  be  yours  forever. 

Her  mouth  is  pretty.  You  could  kiss  it  awhile.) 

No,  they're  kin  to  the  Shepleys.  Lucy  comes  from  Virginia. 

(I  know  that  kind  of  mouth.  I  know  that  hair. 

I  know  the  dolls  you  like  to  take  in  your  hands, 

The  dolls  that  all  men  like  to  take  in  their  hands, 

I  will  not  fight  with  a  doll  for  you  or  any  one.) 

We'd  better  dance  now. 

(Lucy  Weatherby. 

When  this  dance  is  done,  I  will  leave  you  and  dance  with  her. 

I  know  that  shallow  but  sufficient  mouth.) 

As  you  please. 

(Lucy  Weatherby. 

I  will  make  an  image  of  you,  a  doll  in  wax. 

I  will  pierce  the  little  .wax  palms  with  silver  bodkins. 

No,  I  will  not.) 

That's  good  music.  It  beats  in  your  head. 

(It  beats  in  the  head,  it  beats  in  the  head, 

It  ties  the  heart  with  a  scarlet  thread, 

This  is  the  last, 

This  is  the  last, 

Hurry,  hurry,  this  is  the  last. 

We  dance  on  a  floor  of  polished  sleet, 


But  the  little  cracks  are  beginning  to  meet, 
Under  the  play  of  our  dancing  feet. 
I  do  not  care.  I  am  Wingate  still. 
The  corn  unground  by  the  watermill. 
And  I  am  yours  while  the  fiddles  spill, 
But  my  will  has  a  knife  to  cut  your  will, 
My  birds  will  never  come  to  your  hill. 

You  are  my  foe  and  my  only  friend, 
You  are  the  steel  I  cannot  bend, 
You  are  the  water  at  the  world's  end. 

But  Wingate  Hall  must  tumble  down, 

Tumble  down,  tumble  down, 

A  dream  dissolving,  a  ruined  thing, 

Before  we  can  melt  from  the  shattered  crown 

Gold  enough  for  a  wedding-ring. 

And  Wingate  Hall  must  lie  in  the  dust, 

And  the  wood  rot  and  the  iron  rust 

And  the  vines  grow  over  the  broken  bust, 

Before  we  meet  without  hate  or  pride, 

Before  we  talk  as  lover  and  bride, 

Before  the  daggers  of  our  offence 

Have  the  color  of  innocence, 

And  nothing  is  said  and  all  is  said, 

And  we  go  looking  for  secret  bread, 

And  lie  together  in  the  same  bed.) 

Yes,  it's  good  music,  hear  it  lift. 

(It  is  too  mellow,  it  is  too  swift, 

I  am  dancing  alone  in  my  naked  shift, 

I  am  dancing  alone  in  the  snowdrift. 

You  are  my  lover  and  you  my  life, 

My  peace  and  my  unending  strife 

And  the  edge  of  the  knife  against  my  knife. 

I  will  not  make  you  a  porcelain  wife. 

We  are  linked  together  for  good  and  all, 
For  the  still  pool  and  the  waterfall, 
But  you  are  married  to  Wingate  Hall. 
And  Wingate  Hall  must  tumble  down, 


Tumble  down,  tumble  down, 

Wingate  Hall  must  tumble  down, 

An  idol  broken  apart, 

Before  I  sew  on  a  wedding  gown 

And  stitch  my  name  in  your  heart. 

And  Wingate  Hall  must  lie  in  the  grass, 

And  the  silk  stain  and  the  rabbits  pass 

And  the  sparrows  wash  in  the  gilded  glass, 

Before  the  fire  of  our  anger  smothers, 

And  our  sorrows  can  laugh  at  their  lucky  brothers, 

Before  the  knives  of  our  enmity 

Are  buried  under  the  same  green  tree 

And  nothing  is  vowed  and  all  is  vowed 

And  we  have  forgotten  how  to  be  proud, 

And  we  sleep  like  cherubs  in  the  same  cloud.) 

Lucy  Weatherby,  cuddled  up  in  her  bed, 

Drifted  along  toward  sleep  with  a  smile  on  her  mouth, 

"I  was  pretty  tonight,"  she  thought,  "I  was  pretty  tonight. 

Blue's  my  color— blue  that  matches  my  eyes. 

I  always  ought  to  wear  blue.  I'm  sorry  for  girls 

Who  can't  wear  that  sort  of  blue.  Her  name  is  Sally 

But  she's  too  dark  to  wear  the  colors  I  can, 

I'd  like  to  give  her  my  blue  dress  and  see  her  wear  it, 

She'd  look  too  gawky,  poor  thing. 

He  danced  with  her 

For  a  while  at  first  but  I  hadn't  danced  with  him  then, 
He  danced  with  me  after  that.  He's  rather  a  dear. 
I  wonder  how  long  he'll  be  here.  I  think  I  like  him. 
I  think  I'm  going  to  be  pretty  while  I  am  here. 

Lucy  Weatherby— Lucy  Shepley— Lucy  Wingate— 
Huger's  so  jealous,  nearly  as  jealous  as  Curly, 
Poor  Curly— I  ought  to  answer  his  mother's  letter 
But  it's  so  hard  answering  letters." 

She  cried  a  little, 

Thinking  of  Curly.  The  tears  were  fluent  and  warm, 
They  did  not  sting  in  her  eyes.  They  made  her  feel  brave. 
She  could  hardly  remember  Curly  any  more 
But  it  was  right  to  cry  for  him,  now  and  then, 

Slight  tears  at  night  and  a  long,  warm,  dreamless  sleep 
That  left  you  looking  pretty. 

She  dried  the  tears 

And  thought  to  herself  with  a  pleasant  little  awe, 
"You  really  are  mighty  brave,  dear.  You  really  are. 
Nobody  would  think  your  beau  was  killed  at  Manassas." 
—She  could  hardly  remember  Curly  any  more- 
She  tried  to  make  Curly's  face  come  out  of  the  darkness 
But  it  was  too  hard— the  other  faces  kept  coming— 
Huger  Shepley  and  all  the  Virginia  boys 
And  now  this  new  boy's  face  with  the  dark,  keen  eyes. 

Boys  who  were  privates,  boys  who  were  majors  and  captains, 

Nice  old  Generals  who  patted  your  shoulder, 

Darling  convalescents  who  called  you  an  angel— 

A  whole,  great  lucky-bag  of  nice,  thrilling  boys, 

Fighting  for  you— and  the  South  and  the  Cause,  of  course. 

You  were  a  flame  for  the  Cause.  You  sang  songs  about  it. 

You  sent  white  feathers  to  boys  who  didn't  enlist 

And  bunches  of  flowers  to  boys  who  were  suitably  wounded. 

You  wouldn't  dream  of  making  peace  with  the  North 

While  a  single  boy  was  left  to  fight  for  the  Cause 

And  they  called  you  the  Dixie  Angel. 

They  fought  for  the  Cause 

But  you  couldn't  help  feeling,  too,  that  they  fought  for  you, 
And  when  they  died  for  you— and  the  Cause  and  the  flag— 
Your  heart  was  tender  enough.  You  were  willing  to  say 
You  had  been  engaged  to  them,  even  when  you  hadn't 
And  answer  their  mothers'  letters  in  a  sweet  way, 
Though  answering  letters  was  hard. 

She  cuddled  closer, 

"Pillow,  tell  me  I'm  pretty,  tell  me  I'm  lovely, 
Tell  me  I'm  nicer  than  anybody  you  know, 
Tell  me  that  nice  new  boy  is  thinking  about  me, 
Tell  me  that  Sally  girl  couldn't  wear  my  blue, 
Tell  me  the  war  won't  end  till  we've  whipped  the  Yankees, 
Tell  me  I'll  never  get  wrinkles  and  always  have  beaus." 

The  slave  got  away  from  Zachary's  place  that  night. 
He  was  a  big  fellow  named  Spade  with  one  cropped  ear. 
He  had  splay  feet  and  sometimes  walked  with  a  limp. 


His  back  was  scarred.  He  was  black  as  a  pine  at  night. 

He'd  tried  to  run  away  a  couple  of  times 

—That  was  how  he  got  some  of  the  marks  you  could  tell  him 


But  he'd  been  pretty  quiet  now  for  a  year  or  so 
And  they  thought  he  had  settled  down. 

When  he  got  away 

He  meant  to  kill  Zachary  first  but  the  signs  weren't  right. 
He  talked  to  the  knife  but  the  knife  didn't  sweat  or  heat, 
So  he  just  got  away  instead. 

When  he  reached  the  woods 

And  was  all  alone,  he  was  pretty  scared  for  a  while, 
But  he  kept  on  going  all  night  by  the  big  soft  stars, 
Loping  as  fast  as  he  could  on  his  long  splay  feet 
And  when  morning  broke,  he  knew  he  was  safe  for  a  time. 

He  came  out  on  a  cleared  place,  then.  He  saw  the  red 
Sun  spill  over  the  trees. 

He  threw  his  pack 

Down  on  the  ground  and  started  to  laugh  and  laugh, 
"Spade,  boy,  Spade,  you's  lucky  to  git  dis  far. 
You  never  managed  to  git  dis  far  before, 
De  Lawd's  sho'ly  with  you,  Spade." 

He  ate  and  drank. 

He  drew  a  circle  for  Zachary's  face  in  the  ground 
And  spat  in  the  circle.  Then  he  thought  of  his  woman. 
"She's  sho'ly  a  grievin'  woman  dis  mawnin',  Spade." 
The  thought  made  him  sad  at  first,  but  he  soon  cheered  up. 
"She'll  do  all  right  as  soon  as  she's  thu  with  grievin'. 
Grievin'  yaller  gals  always  does  all  right. 
Next  time  Fse  gwine  to  git  me  a  coal-black  gal. 
Fse  tired  of  persimmon-skins. 

Fse  gwine  to  break  loose. 

De  signs  is  right  dis  time.  Fse  gwine  to  be  free, 
Free  in  de  Norf." 

He  saw  himself  in  the  North. 
He  had  a  stovepipe  hat  and  a  coal-black  gal. 
He  had  a  white-folks'  house  and  a  regular  mule. 
He  worked  for  money  and  nobody  ever  owned  him. 
He  got  religion  and  dollars  and  lucky  dice 
And  everybody  he  passed  in  the  white  folks'  street 
Said  "Good  mawnin',  Mr.  Spade— Mr.  Spade,  good  mawnin'." 


He  chuckled  aloud.  "Good  mawnin*,  Mistuh  Spade, 
Gwine  to  be  free,  Mistuh  Spade—yes,  suh,  Mistuh  Spade!" 
For  a  lazy  moment,  he  was  already  there- 
Then  he  stiffened,  nostrils  flaring,  at  a  slight  sound. 
It  couldn't  be  dogs  already. 

"Jesus,"  he  whispered, 

"Sweet,  lovin'  Jesus,  don't  let  'em  git  me  again, 
Burn  me  up,  but  don't  let  'em  git  me  again, 
Dey's  cut  me  apart." 

The  rabbit  ran  past. 

He  stared  at  it  for  a  moment  with  wild,  round  eyes, 
Started  a  yell  of  laughter— and  choked  it  off. 
"Dat  ain't  no  nachul  rabbit  dere,  Spade,  boy. 
Dat's  a  sign.  Yss,  suh.  You  better  start  makin'  tracks. 
Take  your  foot  in  your  hand,  Mistuh  Spade." 

He  swung  the  bundle 

Up  on  his  shoulders  and  slid  along  through  the  trees. 
The  bundle  was  light.  He  was  going  to  be  hungry  soon 
And  the  big  splay  feet  would  soon  be  bleeding  and  sore, 
But,  as  he  went,  he  shook  with  uncanny  chuckles. 
"Good  mawnin',  Mr.  Spade— glad  to  see  you  dis  mawnin* 
How's  Mrs.  Spade,  Mr.  Spade?" 

Sally  Dupre,  from  the  high  porch  of  her  house 
Stared  at  the  road. 

They  would  be  here  soon  enough. 
She  had  waved  a  flag  the  last  time  they  went  away. 
This  time  she  would  wave  her  hand  or  her  handkerchief. 
That  was  what  women  did.  The  column  passed  by 
And  the  women  waved,  and  it  came  back  and  they  waved, 
And,  in  between,  if  you  loved,  you  lived  by  a  dull 
Clock  of  long  minutes  that  passed  like  sunbonneted  women 
Each  with  the  same  dry  face  and  the  same  set  hands. 
I  have  read,  they  have  told  me  that  love  is  a  pretty  god 
With  light  wings  stuck  to  his  shoulders. 

They  did  not  tell  me 

That  love  is  nursing  a  hawk  with  yellow  eyes. 
That  love  is  feeding  your  heart  to  the  beak  of  the  hawk 
Because  an  old  woman,  gossiping,  uttered  a  name. 

They  were  coming  now. 

She  remembered  the  first  time. 

They  were  different  now.  They  rode  with  a  different  rein. 

They  rode  all  together.  They  knew  where  they  were  going. 

They  were  famous  now,  but  she  wondered  about  the  fame. 

And  yet,  as  she  wondered,  she  felt  the  tears  in  her  blood 

Because  they  could  ride  so  easily. 

He  was  there. 
She  fed  her  heart  to  the  hawk  and  watched  him  ride. 

She  thought,  "But  they  like  this,  too.  They  are  like  small  boys 

Going  off  to  cook  potatoes  over  a  fire 

Deep  in  the  woods,  where  no  women  can  ever  come 

To  say  how  blackened  and  burnt  the  potatoes  are 

And  how  you  could  cook  them  better  back  in  a  house. 

Oh,  they  like  to  come  home.  When  they're  sick  they  like  to  come 

They  dream  about  home— they  write  you  they  want  to  come 


And  they  come  back  and  live  in  the  house  for  a  while 
And  raise  their  sons  to  hear  the  same  whistle-tune 
Under  the  window,  the  whistle  calling  the  boys 
Out  to  the  burnt  potatoes. 

O  whistler  Death, 

What  have  we  done  to  you  in  a  barren  month, 
In  a  sterile  hour,  that  our  lovers  should  die  before  us?" 
Then  she  thought.  "No,  no,  I  can't  bear  it.  It  cannot  be  borne." 
And  knowing  this,  bore  it. 

He  saw  her.  He  turned  his  horse. 

"If  he  comes  here,  I  can't  keep  it  back,  I  can't  keep  it  back, 
I  can't  stand  it,  don't  let  him  come."  He  was  coming  now. 
He  rides  well,  she  thought,  while  her  hands  made  each  other  cold. 
I  will  have  to  remember  how.  And  his  face  is  sharper. 
The  moustache  quite  changes  his  face.  The  face  that  I  saw 
While  he  was  away  was  clean-shaven  and  darker-eyed. 
I  must  change  that,  now.  I  will  have  to  remember  that. 
It  is  very  important. 

He  swung  from  Black  Whistle's  back. 
His  spurs  made  a  noise  on  the  porch.  She  twisted  her  hands. 
"If  I  shut  my  eyes,  I  can  make  him  kiss  me.  I  will  not." 

They  were  saying  good-by,  now.  She  heard  polite  voices  say- 
ing it. 


Then  the  voices  ended.  "No,  no,  it  is  not  to  be  borne, 
It  is  the  last  twist  of  the  vise." 

Her  will  snapped  then. 

When  she  looked  at  him,  she  knew  that  the  knives  were  edgeless. 
In  an  instant  life  would  begin,  life  would  be  forever. 

His  eyes  wavered.  There  was  a  thin  noise  in  her  ears, 
A  noise  from  the  road. 

The  instant  fell  and  lay  dead 
Between  them  like  something  broken. 

She  turned  to  see  what  had  killed  it. 

Lucy  Weatherby,  reining  a  bright  bay  mare, 
Played  with  the  braided  Jash  of  a  riding-whip 
And  talked  to  Wingate's  father  with  smiling  eyes, 
While  Huger  Shepley  tried  to  put  in  a  word 
And  the  whole  troop  clustered  about  her. 

Her  habit  was  black 

But  she  had  a  knot  of  bright  ribbons  pinned  at  her  breast, 
Red  and  blue—the  Confederate  colors. 

They  had  cheered  her. 

They  had  cheered  her,  riding  along  with  her  colored  ribbons. 
It  was  that  which  had  killed  the  instant. 

Sally  looked 

At  the  face  with  the  new  moustache  she  had  to  remember. 
"Good-by,"  she  said.  The  face  bent  over  her  hand 
And  kissed  it  acceptably. 

Then  the  face  had  gone. 

He  was  back  with  the  others  now.  She  watched  for  a  minute. 
Lucy  was  unpinning  her  knot  of  ribbons. 
She  saw  a  dozen  hands  go  up  for  the  knot 
And  Lucy  laugh  her  sweet  laugh  and  shake  her  bright  head, 
Glance  once  at  Huger  Shepley  and  once  at  Clay, 
And  then  toss  the  colored  knot  to  the  guidon-bearer 
Who  grinned  and  tied  the  ribbons  around  the  staff 
While  some  of  them  cheered  again. 

Then  the  horses  moved. 

They  went  by  Lucy.  Lucy  was  waving  her  hand. 
She  had  tears  in  her  eyes  and  was  saying  brave  words  to  the 


Sally  watched  a  back  and  a  horse  go  out  of  sight. 
She  was  tired,  then. 


When  the  troop  had  quite  disappeared 
Lucy  rode  up  toche  house. 

The  two  women  kissed 

And  talked  for  a  while  about  riding-habits  and  war. 
"I  just  naturally  love  every  boy  in  the  Black  Horse  Troop, 
Don't  you,  Sally  darling?  They're  all  so  nice  and  polite, 
Quite  like  our  Virginia  boys,  and  the  Major's  a  dear, 
And  that  nice  little  one  with  the  guidon  is  perfectly  sweet. 
You  ought  to  have  heard  what  he  said  when  I  gave  him  the  knot. 
Though,  of  course,  I  can  tell  why  you  didn't  come  down  to  the 


War's  terrible,  isn't  it?  All  those  nice  boys  going  off— 
I  feel  just  the  way  you  do,  darling— we  just  have  to  show  them 
Whenever  we  can  that  we  know  they  are  fighting  for  us, 
Fighting  for  God  and  the  South  and  the  cause  or  the  right— 
'Law,  Chile,  don't  you  fret  about  whether  you's  pretty  or  plain, 
You  just  do  what  you  kin,  and  the  good  Lawd'll  brighten  your 


That's  what  my  old  mammy  would  tell  me  when  I  was  knee-high 
And  I  always  remember  and  just  try  to  do  what  I  can 
For  the  boys  and  the  wounded  and— well,  that's  it,  isn't  it,  dear? 
We've  all  got  to  do  what  we  can  in  this  horrible  war." 
Sally  agreed  that  we  had,  and  drank  Jrom  a  cup. 
She  thought.  "Lucy  Weatherby.  Yes.  I  must  look  for  a  doll. 
I  must  make  a  doll  with  your  face,  an  image  of  wax. 
I  must  call  that  doll  by  your  name." 

Now  the  scene  expands,  we  must  look  at  the  scene  as  a  whole. 

How  are  the  gameboards  chalked  and  the  pieces  set? 

There  is  an  Eastern  game  and  a  Western  game. 

In  the  West,  blue  armies  try  to  strangle  the  long 

Snake  of  the  Mississippi  with  iron  claws; 

Buell  and  Grant  against  Bragg  and  Beauregard. 

They  have  hold  of  the  head  of  the  snake  where  it  touches  the 


New  Orleans  is  taken,  the  fangs  of  the  forts  drawn  out, 
The  ambiguous  Butler  wins  ambiguous  fame 
By  issuing  orders  stating  that  any  lady 
Who  insults  a  Union  soldier  in  uniform 
Shall  be  treated  as  a  streetwalker  plying  her  trade. 
The  orders  are  read  and  hated.  The  insults  stop 

But  the  ladies  remember  Butler  for  fifty  years 
And  make  a  fabulous  devil  with  pasteboard  horns 
—"Beast"  Butler,  the  fiend  who  pilfered  the  silver  spoons— 
From  a  slightly-tarnished,  crude-minded,  vain  politician 
Who  loved  his  wife  and  ached  to  be  a  great  man. 
You  were  not  wise  with  the  ladies,  Benjamin  Butler, 
It  has  been  disproved  that  you  stole  New  Orleans  spoons 
But  the  story  will  chime  at  the  ribs  of  your  name  and  stain  it, 
fc  Ghost-silver,  clinking  against  the  ribs  of  a  ghost, 
As  long  as  the  ladies  have  tongues. 

Napoleon  was  wiser 

But  he  could  not  silence  one  ugly,  clever  De  Stael. 
Make  war  on  the  men— the  ladies  have  too-long  memories. 

The  head  of  the  snake  is  captured— the  tail  gripped  fast- 
But  the  body  in  between  still  writhes  and  resists, 
Vicksburg  is  still  unfallen— Grant  not  yet  master- 
Sheridan,  Sherman,  Thomas  still  in  the  shadow. 
The  eyes  of  the  captains  are  fixed  on  the  Eastern  game, 
The  presidents— and  the  watchers  oversea— 
For  there  are  the  two  defended  kings  of  the  board, 
Muddy  Washington,  with  its  still-unfinished  Capitol, 
Sprawling,  badly-paved,  beset  with  sharp  hogs 
That  come  to  the  very  doorsteps  and  grunt  for  crumbs, 
Full  of  soldiers  and  clerks,  full  ot  all  the  baggage  of  war, 
"Bombproof "  officers,  veterans  back  on  leave, 
Recruits,  spies,  spies  on  the  spies,  politicians,  contractors, 
Reporters,  slackers,  ambassadors,  bands  and  harlots, 
Negro-boys  who  organize  butting-matches 
To  please  the  recruits,  tattooers  and  fortune-tellers, 
Rich  man,  poor  man,  soldier,  beggarman,  thief, 
And  one  most  lonely  man  in  a  drafty  White  House 
Whose  everlasting  melancholy  runs 
Like  a  deep  stream  under  the  funny  stories, 
The  parable-maker,  humble  in  many  things 
But  seldom  humble  with  his  fortitude, 
The  sorrowful  man  who  cracked  the  sure-fire  jokes, 
Roareu  over  Artemus  Ward  and  Orpheus  C.  Kerr 
And  drove  his  six  cross  mules  with  a  stubborn  hand. 
He  has  lost  a  son,  but  he  has  no  time  to  grieve  for  him. 
He  studies  tactics  now  till  late  in  the  night 
With  the  same  painful,  hewing  industry 


He  put  on  studying  law. 

McClellan  comes, 

McClellan  goes,  McClellan  bustles  and  argues, 
McClellan  is  too  busy  to  see  the  President, 
McClellan  complains  of  this,  complains  of  that, 
The  Government  is  not  supporting  him, 
The  Government  cannot  understand  grand  strategy, 
The  Government— 

McClellan  feels  abused. 

McClellan  is  quite  sincere  and  sometimes  right. 
They  come  to  the  lonely  man  about  McClellan 
With  various  tales. 

McClellan  lacks  respect, 
McClellan  dreams  about  a  dictatorship, 
McClellan  does  that  and  this. 

The  lonely  man 

Listens  to  all  the  stories  and  remarks, 
"If  McClellan  wins,  I  will  gladly  hold  his  horse." 

A  hundred  miles  away  in  an  arrow-line 

Lies  the  other  defended  king  of  the  giant  chess, 

Broad-streeted  Richmond. 

All  the  baggage  of  war 
Is  here  as  well,  the  politicians,  the  troops, 
The  editors  who  scream  at  the  government, 
The  slackers,  the  good  and  the  bad,  but  the  flavor  is  different: 
There  is  something  older  here,  and  smaller  and  courtlier, 
The  trees  in  the  streets  are  old  trees  used  to  living  with  people, 
Family-trees  that  remember  your  grandfather's  name. 
It  is  still  a  clan-city,  a  family-city,  a  city 
That  thinks  of  the  war,  on  the  whole,  as  a  family-matter, 
A  woman  city,  devoted  and  fiercely  jealous 
As  any  of  the  swan-women  who  ruled  it  then- 
Ready  to  give  their  lives  and  hearts  for  the  South, 
But  already  a  little  galled  by  Jefferson  Davis 
And  finding  him  rather  too  much  of  a  doctrinaire 
With  a  certain  comparative  touch  of  the  parvenu. 
He  is  not  from  Virginia,  we  never  knew  his  grandfather. 

The  South  is  its  husband,  the  South  is  not  quite  its  master. 
It  has  a  soul  while  Washington  is  a  symbol, 
Beautiful,  witty,  feminine,  narrow  and  valiant, 

Unwisely-chosen,  perhaps,  for  a  king  of  the  game, 
But  playing  the  part  with  a  definite  air  of  royalty 
Until,  in  the  end,  it  stands  for  the  South  completely 
And  when  it  falls,  the  sword  of  the  South  snaps  short 

At  present,  the  war  has  not  yet  touched  it  home, 
McClellan  has  landed,  on  the  Peninsula, 
But  his  guns  are  still  far  away. 

The  ladies  go 

To  Mrs.  Davis's  parties  in  last  year's  dresses. 
Soon  they  are  to  cut  the  green  and  white  chintz  curtains 
That  shade  their  long  drawing-rooms  from  the  lazy  sun 
To  bandage  the  stricken  wounded  of  Seven  Pines. 

The  lonely  man  with  the  chin  like  John  Calhoun's 
Works  hard  and  is  ill  at  ease  in  his  Richmond  White  House. 
His  health  was  never  too  strong— it  is  tiring  now 
Under  a  mass  of  detail,  under  the  strain 
Of  needless  quarrels  with  secretaries  and  chiefs 
And  a  Congress  already  beginning  to  criticize  him. 
He  puts  his  trust  in  God  with  a  charmed  devotion 
And  his  faith,  too  often,  in  men  who  can  feed  his  vanity. 
They  mock  him  for  it.  He  cannot  understand  mocking. 
There  is  something  in  him  that  prickles  the  pride  of  men 
Whom  Lincoln  could  have  used,  and  makes  them  his  foes. 
Joe  Johnston  and  he  have  been  at  odds  from  the  first, 
Beauregard  and  he  are  at  odds  and  will  be  at  odds, 
One  could  go  through  a  list- 
He  is  quite  as  stubborn  as  Lincoln 
In  supporting  the  people  he  trusts  through  thick  and  thin, 
But— except  for  Lee— the  people  he  trusts  so  far 
Seldom  do  the  work  that  alone  can  repay  the  trust. 
They  fail  in  the  end  and  his  shoulders  carry  the  failure, 
And  leave  him,  in  spite  of  his  wife,  in  spite  of  his  God, 
Lonely,  beginning  and  end,  with  that  other's  loneliness. 
The  other  man  could  have  understood  him  and  used  him. 
He  could  never  have  used  or  comprehended  the  other. 
It  is  their  measure. 

And  yet,  a  deep  loneliness, 
A  deep  devotion,  a  deep  self-sacrifice, 
Binds  the  strange  two  together. 

He,  too,  is  to  lose 

A  child  in  his  White  House,  ere  his  term  is  accomplished. 

He,  too,  is  to  be  the  scapegoat  for  all  defeat. 

And  he  is  to  know  the  ultimate  bitterness, 

The  cause  lost  after  every  expense  of  mind, 

And  bear  himself  with  decent  fortitude 

In  the  prison  where  the  other  would  not  have  kept  him. 

One  cannot  balance  tragedy  in  the  scales 

Unless  one  weighs  it  with  the  tragic  heart. 

The  other  man's  tragedy  was  the  greater  one 

Since  the  blind  fury  tore  the  huger  heart, 

But  this  man's  tragedy  is  the  more  pitiful. 

Thus  the  Eastern  board  and  the  two  defended  kings. 

But  why  is  the  game  so  ordered,  what  crowns  the  kings? 

They  are  cities  of  streets  and  houses  like  other  cities. 

Baltimore  might  be  taken,  and  war  go  on, 

Atlanta  will  be  taken  and  war  go  on, 

Why  should  these  two  near  cities  be  otherwise? 

We  do  not  fight  for  the  real  but  for  shadows  we  make. 

A  flag  is  a  piece  of  cloth  and  a  word  is  a  sound, 

But  we  make  them  something  neither  cloth  nor  a  sound, 

Totems  of  love  and  hate,  black  sorcery -stones, 

So  with  these  cities. 

And  so  the  third  game  is  played, 
The  intricate  game  of  the  watchers  oversea, 
The  shadow  that  falls  like  the  shadow  of  a  hawk's  wing 
Over  the  double-chessboard  until  the  end— 
The  shadow  of  Europe,  the  shadows  of  England  and  France, 
The  war  of  the  cotton  against  the  iron  and  wheat. 
The  shadows  ponder  and  mutter,  biding  their  time; 
If  the  knights  and  bishops  that  play  for  the  cotton-king 
Can  take  the  capital-city  of  wheat  and  iron, 
The  shadow-hands  will  turn  into  hands  of  steel 
And  intervene  for  the  cotton  that  feeds  the  mills. 
But  if  the  fable  throned  on  a  cotton-bale 
Is  checkmated  by  the*  pawns  of  iron  and  wheat, 
The  shadows  will  pause,  and  cleave  to  iron  and  wheat, 
They  will  go  their  ways  and  lift  their  eyes  from  the  game, 
For  iron  and  wheat  are  not  to  be  lightly  held. 
So  the  watchers,  searching  the  board. 

And  so  the  game. 

The  blockade  grips,  the  blockade-runners  break  through, 
There  are  duels  and  valors,  the  Western  game  goes  on 

And  the  snake  of  the  Mississippi  is  tamed  at  last, 
But  the  fight  in  the  East  is  the  fight  between  the  two  kings. 
If  Richmond  is  threatened,  we  threaten  Washington, 
You  check  our  king  with  McClellan  or  Hooker  or  Grant, 
We  will  check  your  king  with  Jackson  or  Early  or  Lee 
And  you  must  draw  back  strong  pieces  to  shield  your  king, 
For  we  hold  the  chord  of  the  circle  and  you  the  arc 
And  we  can  shift  our  pieces  better  than  you. 

So  it  runs  for  years  until  Jubal  Early,  riding, 

A  long  twelve  months  after  Gettysburg's  high  tide, 

Sees  the  steeples  of  Washington  prick  the  blue  June  sky 

And  the  Northern  king  is  threatened  for  the  last  time. 

But,  by  then,  the  end  is  too  near,  the  cotton  is  withered. 

Now  the  game  still  hangs  in  the  balance— the  cotton  in  bloom— 

The  shadows  of  the  watchers  long  on  the  board. 

McClellan  has  moved  his  men  from  their  camps  at  last 

In  a  great  sally. 

There  are  many  gates  he  can  try. 
The  Valley  gate  and  the  old  Manassas  way, 
But  he  has  chosen  to  ferry  his  men  by  sea, 
To  the  ragged  half-island  between  the  York  and  the  James 
And  thrust  up  a  long,  slant  arm  from  Fortress  Monroe 
Northwest  toward  Richmond. 

The  roads  are  sticky  and  soft, 

There  are  forts  at  Yorktown  and  unmapped  rivers  to  cross. 
He  has  many  more  men  than  Johnston  or  John  Magruder 
But  the  country  hinders  him,  and  he  hinders  himself 
By  always  thinking  the  odds  on  the  other  side 
And  that  witches  of  ruin  haunt  each  move  he  makes. 
But  even  so—he  has  boarded  that  jutting  deck 
That  is  the  Peninsula,  and  his  forces  creep 
Slowly  toward  Richmond,  slowly  up  to  the  high 
Defended  captain's  cabin  of  the  great  ship. 
—There  was  another  force  that  came  from  its  ships 
To  take  a  city  set  on  a  deck  of  land, 
The  cause  unlike,  but  the  fighting  no  more  stark, 
The  doom  no  fiercer,  the  fame  no  harder  to  win. 
There  are  no  gods  to  come  with  a  golden  smoke 
Here  in  the  mud  between  the  York  and  the  James 
And  wrap  some  high-chinned  hero  away  from  death. 
There  are  only  Bibles  and  buckles  and  cartridge  belts 


That  sometimes  stop  a  bullet  before  it  kills 
But  oftener  let  it  pass. 

And  when  Sarpedon 

Falls  and  the  heavy  darkness  stiffens  his  limbs 
They  will  let  him  lie  where  he  fell,  they  will  not  wash  him 
In  the  running  streams  of  Scamander,  the  half-divine, 
They  will  bury  him  in  a  shallow  and  cumbered  pit. 
But,  if  you  would  sing  of  fighters,  sing  of  these  men, 
Sing  of  Fair  Oaks  and  the  battered  Seven  Days, 
Not  of  the  raging  of  Ajax,  the  cry  of  Hector, 
These  men  were  not  gods  nor  shielded  by  any  gods, 
They  were  men  of  our  shape:  they  fought  as  such  men  may  fight 
With  a  mortal  skill:  when  they  died  it  was  as  men  die. 

Army  of  the  Potomac,  advancing  army, 

Alloy  of  a  dozen  disparate,  alien  States, 

City-boy,  farm-hand,  bounty-man,  first  volunteer, 

Old  regular,  drafted  recruit,  paid  substitute, 

Men  who  fought  through  the  war  from  First  Bull  Run, 

And  other  men,  nowise  different  in  look  or  purpose, 

Whom  the  first  men  greeted  at  first  with  a  ribald  cry 

"Here  they  come!  Two  hundred  dollars  and  a  ka-ow!" 

Rocks  from  New  England  and  hickory-chunks  from  the  West,. 

Bowery  boy  and  clogging  Irish  adventurer, 

Germans  who  learnt  their  English  under  the  shells 

Or  didn't  have  time  to  learn  it  before  they  died. 

Confused,  huge  weapon,  forged  from  such  different  metals, 

Misused  by  unlucky  swordsmen  till  you  were  blunt 

And  then  reforged  with  anguish  and  bloody  sweat 

To  be  blunted  again  by  one  more  unlucky  captain 

Against  the  millstone  of  Lee. 

Good  stallion, 

Ridden  and  ridden  against  a  hurdle  of  thorns 
By  uncertain  rider  after  uncertain  rider. 
The  rider  fails  and  you  shiver  and  catch  your  breath, 
They  plaster  your  wounds  and  patch  up  your  broken  knees,. 
And  then,  just  as  you  know  the  grip  of  your  rider's  hands 
And  begin  to  feel  at  home  with  his  horseman's  tricks, 
Another  rider  comes  with  a  different  seat, 
And  lunges  you  at  the  bitter  hurdle  again, 
And  it  beats  you  again— and' it  all  begins  from  the  first, 
The  patching  of  wounds,  the  freezing  in  winter  camps, 

1 60 

The  vain  mud-marches,  the  diarrhea,  me  wastage, 
The  grand  reviews,  the  talk  in  the  newspapers, 
The  sour  knowledge  that  you  were  wasted  again, 
Not  as  Napoleons  waste  for  a  victory 
But  blindly,  unluckily— 

until  at  last 

After  long  years,  at  fish-hook  Gettysburg, 
The  blade  and  the  millstone  meet  and  the  blade  holds  fast. 
And,  after  that,  the  chunky  man  from  the  West, 
Stranger  to  you,  not  one  of  the  men  you  loved 
As  you  loved  McClellan,  a  rider  with  a  hard  bit, 
Takes  you  and  uses  you  as  you  could  be  used, 
Wasting  you  grimly  but  breaking  the  hurdle  down. 
You  arc  never  to  worship  him  as  you  did  McClellan, 
But  at  the  last  you  can  trust  him.  He  slaughters  you 
But  he  sees  that  you  are  fed.  After  sullen  Cold  Harbor 
They  call  him  a  butcher  and  want  him  out  of  the  saddle, 
But  you  have  had  other  butchers  who  did  not  win 
And  this  man  wins  in  the  end. 

You  see  him  standing, 

Reading  a  map,  unperturbed,  under  heavy  fire. 
You  do  not  cheer  him  as  the  recruits  might  cheer 
But  you  say  "Ulysses  doesn't  scare  worth  a  darn. 
Ulysses  is  all  right.  He  can  finish  the  job." 
And  at  last  your  long  lines  go  past  in  the  Grand  Review 
And  your  legend  and  his  begins  and  are  mixed  forever. 

Now,  though,  he  is  still  just  one  of  the  Western  leaders, 
And  Little  Mac  is  your  darling. 

You  are  unshaken 

By  the  ruin  of  Fredericksburg,  the  wounds  of  Antietam, 
Chancellorsville  is  a  name  in  the  Wilderness, 
Your  pickets,  posted  in  front  of  the  Chickahominy, 
Hear  the  churchbells  of  Richmond,  ringing; 
Listen  well  to  those  bells,  they  are  very  near  tonight, 
But  you  will  not  hear  them  again  for  three  harsh  years. 

Black  months  of  war,  hard-featured,  defeated  months 

Between  Fair  Oaks  and  Gettysburg, 

What  is  your  tale  for  this  army? 

What  do  the  men, 

So  differently  gathered  for  your  word  to  devour, 


Say  to  your  ears,  deaf  with  cannon?  What  do  they  bring 
In  powder-pocked  hands  to  the  heart  of  the  burst  shell? 
Let  us  read  old  letters  awhile, 
Let  us  try  to  hear 

The  thin,  forgotten  voices  of  men  forgotten 
Crying  out  of  torn  scraps  of  paper,  notes  scribbled  and  smudged 
On  aces,  on  envelope-backs,  on  gilt-edged  cards  stolen  out  of  a 
dead  man's  haversack. 

—Two  brothers  lay  on  the  field  of  Fredericksburg 
After  the  assault  had  failed. 

They  were  unwounded  but  they  could  not  move, 
The  sharpshooters  covered  that  patch  of  ground  too  well. 
They  had  a  breastwork  to  hide  them  from  the  bullets, 
A  shelter  of  two  dead  men.  One  had  lost  his  back, 
Scooped  out  from  waist  to  neck  with  a  solid  shot. 
The  other's  legs  were  gone.  They  made  a  good  breastwork. 
The  brothers  lay  behind  them,  flat  in  the  mud, 
All  Sunday  till  night  came  down  and  they  could  creep  off. 
They  did  not  dare  move  their  hands  for  fourteen  hours. 
—A  middle-aged  person  named  Fletcher  from  Winchester 
Enlisted  in  the  Massachusetts  Sharpshooters. 
He  was  a  crack-duckshooter,  skilful  and  patient. 
They  gave  him  the  wrong  sort  of  rifle  and  twenty  rounds 
And  told  him  to  join  his  company. 
It  took  him  days  to  find  it.  He  had  no  rations, 
He  begged  bread  and  green  corn  and  peaches  and  shot  a  hog; 
So  got  there  at  last.  He  joined  just  before  Antictam. 
He'd  never  been  drilled  but  he  knew  how  to  shoot, 
Though  at  first  his  hands  kept  shaking. 
"It  was  different  kind  of  gunning  from  what  I  was  used  to, 
I  was  mad  with  myself  that  I  acted  so  like  a  coward." 
But  as  soon  as  they  let  him  lie  down  and  fight  on  his  own, 
He  felt  all  right.  He  had  nineteen  cartridges  now. 
The  first  five  each  killed  a  man—he  was  a  good  shot- 
Then  the  rifle  fouled.  He  began  to  get  up  and  fix  it, 
Mechanically.  A  bullet  went  through  his  lung. 
He  lay  on  the  field  all  day.  At  the  end  of  the  day 
He  was  captured,  sent  to  prison,  paroled  after  weeks, 
Died  later,  because  of  the  wound. 
That  was  his  war— 


Other  voices,  rising  out  of  the  scraps  of  paper, 

Till  they  mix  in  a  single  voice  that  says  over  and  over 

"It  is  cold.  It  is  wet.  We  marched  till  we  couldn't  stand  up. 

It  is  muddy  here.  I  wish  you  could  see  us  here. 

I  wish  everybody  at  home  could  see  us  here. 

They  would  know  what  war  is  like.  We  are  still  patriotic. 

We  are  going  to  fight.  We  hope  this  general's  good. 

We  hope  he  can  make  us  win.  We'll  do  all  we  can. 

But  I  wish  we  could  show  everybody  who  stays  at  home 

What  this  is  like." 

Voices  of  tired  men, 

Sick,  convalescent,  afraid  of  being  sick. 

"The  diarrhea  is  bad.  I  hope  I  don't  get  it 

But  everybody  seems  to  get  it  sometime. 

I  felt  sick  last  night.  I  thought  I  was  going  to  die, 

But  Jim  rubbed  me  and  I  feel  better.  There's  just  one  thing, 

I  hope  I  never  get  sent  to  the  hospital, 

You  don't  get  well  when  you  go  to  the  hospital. 

I'd  rather  be  shot  and  killed  quick." 

(Nurses  and  doctors,  savagely,  tenderly  working, 

Trying  to  beat  off  death  without  enough  knowledge, 

Trying  and  failing. 

Clara  Barton,  Old  Mother  Bickerdyke, 

Overworked  evangels  of  common  sense, 

Nursing,  tending,  clearing  a  ruthless  path 

Through  the  cant  and  red  tape,  through  the  petty  jealousies 

To  the  bitter  front,  bringing  up  the  precious  supplies 

In  spite  of  hell  and  high  water  and  pompous  fools, 

To  the  deadly  place  where  the  surgeons'  hands  grew  stiff 

Under  the  load  of  anguish  they  had  to  deal, 

Where  they  bound  men's  wounds  and  swabbed  them  with  green 

corn  leaves, 

There  being  no  other  lint. 
Whitman,  with  his  sack  of  tobacco  and  comfits, 
Passing  along  the  terrible,  crowded  wards, 
Listening,  wrriting  letters,  trying  to  breathe 
Strong  life  into  lead-colored  lips. 
He  does  what  he  can.  The  doctors  do  what  they  can. 
The  nurses  save  a  life  here  and  another  there, 
But  the  sick  men  die  like  flies  in  the  hospitals.) 


Voices  of  boys  and  men, 
Homesick,  stubborn,  talking  of  little  things, 
"We  get  better  food.  I'm  getting  to  be  a  good  cook. 
The  food's  bad.  The  whole  company  yelled  'Hard  Bread!'  today- 
There  are  only  three  professed  Christians  in  my  whole  regiment 
I  feel  sad  about  that. 

I  wish  you  could  see  the  way  we  have  to  live  here, 
I  wish  everybody  at  home  could  see  what  it's  like. 
It's  muddy.  It's  cold.  My  shoes  gave  out  on  the  march. 
We  lost  the  battle.  The  general  was  drunk. 
This  is  the  roughest  life  that  you  ever  saw. 
If  I  ever  get  back  home—" 
And,  over  and  over,  in  stiff,  patriotic  phrases, 
"I  am  resigned  to  die  for  the  Union,  mother. 
If  we  die  in  this  battle,  we  will  have  died  for  the  right, 
We  will  have  died  bravely— you  can  trust  us  for  that. 
It  is  only  right  to  die  for  our  noble  Union. 
We  will  save  it  or  die  for  it.  There's  just  one  thing. 
I  hope  I  die  quick.  I  hope  I  don't  have  to  die 
In  the  hospital. 

There  is  one  thought  that  to  me  is  worse  than  death. 
(This,  they  say  over  and  over)  it  is  the  thought 
Of  being  buried  as  they  bury  us  here 
After  a  battle.  Sometimes  they  barely  cover  us. 
I  feel  sick  when  I  think  of  getting  buried  like  that, 
Though  if  nothing  except  our  death  will  rescue  our  Union, 
You  can  trust  us  to  die  for  it." 
And,  through  it  all,  the  deep  diapason  swelling, 
"It  is  cold.  We  are  hungry.  We  marched  all  day  in  the  mud. 
We  could  barely  stand  when  we  got  back  into  camp. 
Don't  believe  a  thing  the  newspapers  say  about  us. 
It's  all  damn  lies. 

We  are  willing  to  die  for  our  Union, 
But  I  wish  you  could  all  of  you  see  what  this  is  like, 
Nobody  at  home  can  imagine  what  it  is  like. 
We  are  ready  to  fight.  We  know  we  can  fight  and  win. 
But  why  will  they  waste  us  in  fights  that  cannot  be  won? 
When  will  we  get  a  man  that  can  really  lead  us?" 
These  are  the  articulate  that  write  the  letters. 
The  inarticulate  merely  undergo. 

There  are  times  of  good  food  and  times  of  campfire  jokes, 
Times  of  good  weather,  times  of  partial  success 


In  those  two  years. 

"The  mail  came.  Thanks  for  the  papers. 
We  had  a  good  feed  at  Mrs.  Wilson's  place. 
I  feel  fine  today.  We  put  on  a  show  last  night. 
You  ought  to  have  seen  Jim  Wheeler  in  'Box  and  Cox.' 
Our  little  band  of  Christians  meets  often  now 
And  the  spirit  moves  in  us  strongly,  praise  be  to  God. 
The  President  reviewed  us  two  days  ago. 
You  should  have  seen  it,  father,  it  was  majestic. 
I  have  never  seen  a  more  magnificent  sight. 
It  makes  me  proud  to  be  part  of  such  an  army. 
We  got  the  tobacco.  The  socks  came.  I'm  feeling  fine." 
All  that— but  still  the  deep  diapason  throbs 
Under  the  rest. 

The  cold.  The  mud.  The  bleak  wonder. 
The  weakening  sickness— the  weevils  tainting  the  bread— 
We  were  beaten  again  irt  spite  of  all  we  could  do. 
We  don't  know  what  went  wrong  but  something  went  wrong. 
When  will  we  find  a  man  who  can  really  lead  us? 
When  will  we  not  be  wasted  without  success? 

Army  of  the  Potomac,  army  of  brave  men, 
Beaten  again  and  again  but  never  quite  broken, 
You  are  to  have  the  victory  in  the  end 
But  these  bleak  months  are  your  anguish. 

Your  voice  dies  out. 
Let  us  hear  the  voice  of  your  steadfast  enemy. 

Army  of  Northern  Virginia,  fabulous  army, 

Strange  army  of  ragged  individualists, 

The  hunters,  the  riders,  the  walkers,  the  savage  pastorals, 

The  unmachined,  the  men  come  out  of  the  ground, 

Still  for  the  most  part,  living  close  to  the  ground 

As  the  roots  of  the  cow-pea,  the  roots  of  the  jessamine, 

The  lazy  scorners,  the  rebels  against  the  wheels, 

The  rebels  against  the  steel  combustion-chamber 

Of  the  half-born  new  age  of  engines  and  metal  hands. 

The  fighters  who  fought  for  themselves  in  the  old  clan-fashion. 

Army  of  planters'  sons  and  rusty  poor-whites, 

Where  one  man  came  to  war  with  a  haircloth  trunk 

Full  of  fine  shirts  and  a  body-servant  to  mend  them, 

And  another  came  with  a  rifle  used  at  King's  Mountain 

And  nothing  else  but  his  pants  and  his  sun-cracked  hands, 

Aristo-democracy  armed  with  a  forlorn  hope, 

Where  a  scholar  turned  the  leaves  of  an  Arabic  grammar 

By  the  campfire-glow,  and  a  drawling  mountaineer 

Told  dirty  stories  old  as  the  bawdy  world, 

Where  one  of  Lee's  sons  worked  a  gun  with  the  Rockbridge 

And  two  were  cavalry  generals. 

Praying  army, 

Full  of  revivals,  as  full  of  salty  jests, 
Who  debated  on  God  and  Darwin  and  Victor  Hugo, 
Decided  that  evolution  might  do  for  Yankees 
But  that  Lee  never  came  from  anything  with  a  tail, 
And  called  yourselves  "Lee's  miserables  faintin'  " 
When  the  book  came  out  that  tickled  your  sense  of  romance, 
Army  of  improvisators  of  peanut-coffee 

Who  baked  your  bread  on  a  ramrod  stuck  through  the  dough, 
Swore  and  laughed  and  despaired  and  sang  "Lorena," 
Suffered,  died,  deserted,  fought  to  the  end. 
Sentimental  army,  touched  by  "Lorena," 
Touched  by  all  lace-paper-valentines  of  sentiment, 
Who  wept  for  the  mocking-bird  on  Hallie's  grave 
When  you  had  better  cause  to  weep  for  more  private  griefs, 
Touched  by  women  and  your  tradition-idea  of  them, 
The  old,  book-fed,  half-queen,  half-servant  idea, 
False  and  true  and  expiring. 

Starving  army, 

Who,  after  your  best  was  spent  and  your  Spring  lay  dead, 
Yet  held  the  intolerable  lines  of  Petersburg 
With  deadly  courage. 

You  too  are  a  legend  now 

And  the  legend  has  made  your  fame  and  has  dimmed  that  fame, 
—The  victor  strikes  and  the  beaten  man  goes  down 
But  the  years  pass  and  the  legend-  covers  them  both, 
The  beaten  cause  turns  into  the  m'agic  cause, 
The  victor  has  his  victory  for  his  pains— 
So  with  you— and  the  legend  has  made  a  stainless  host 
Out  of  the  dusty  columns  of  footsore  men 
Who  found  life  sweet  and  didn't  want  to  be  killed, 
Grumbled  at  officers,  grumbled  at  Governments. 
That  stainless  host  you  were  not.  You  had  your  cowards, 
Your  bullies,  your  fakers,  your  sneaks,  your  savages. 


You  go^:  tired  of  marching.  You  cursed  the  cold  and  the  rain. 

You  cursed  the  war  and  the  food— and  went  on  till  the  end. 

And  yet,  there  was  something  in  you  that  matched  your  fable. 

What  was  it?  What  do  your  dim,  faint  voices  say? 

"Will  we  ever  get  home?  Will  we  ever  lick  them  for  good? 

We've  got  to  go  on  and  fight  till  we  lick  them  for  good. 

They've  got  the  guns  and  the  money  and  lots  more  men 

But  we've  got  to  lick  them  now. 

We're  not  fighting  for  slaves. 

Most  of  us  never  owned  slaves  and  never  expect  to, 

It  takes  money  to  buy  a  slave  and  we're  most  of  us  poor, 

But  we  won't  lie  down  and  let  the  North  walk  over  us 

About  slaves  or  anything  else. 

We  don't  know  how  it  started 
But  they've  invaded  us  now  and  we're  bound  to  fight 
Till  every  last  damn  Yankee  goes  home  and  quits. 
We  used  to  think  we  could  lick  them  in  one  hand's  turn. 
We  don't  think  that  any  more. 

They  keep  coming  and  coming, 
We  haven't  got  guns  that  shoot  as  well,  as  their  guns, 
We  can't  get  clothes  that  wear  as  well  as  their  clothes, 
But  we've  got  to  keep  on  till  they're  licked  and  we're  independent, 
It's  the  only  thing  we  can  do. 

Though  some  of  us  wonder- 
Some  of  us  try  and  puzzle  the  whole  thing  through, 
Some  of  us  hear  about  Richmond  profiteers, 
The  bombproofs  who  get  exempted  and  eat  good  dinners, 
And  the  rest  of  it,  and  say,  with  a  bitter  tongue, 
'This  is  the  rich  man's  war  and  the  poor  man's  fight.' 
And  more  of  us,  maybe,  say  that,  after  a  while, 
.  But  most  of  us  just  keep  on  till  we're  plumb  worn  out, 
We  just  keep  on. 

We've  got  the  right  men  to  lead  us, 
It  doesn't  matter  how  many  the  Yankees  are, 
Marse  Robert  and  Old  Jack  will  take  care  of  that, 
We'll  have  to  march  like  Moses  and  fight  like  hell 
But  we're  bound  to  win  unless  the  two  of  them  die 
And  God  wouldn't  be  so  mean  as  to  take  them  both, 
So  we  just  keep  on— and  keep  on—" 

To  the  Wilderness, 
To  Appomattox,  to  the  end  of  the  dream. 

Army  of  Northern  Virginia,  army  of  legend, 

Who  were  your  captains  that  you  could  trust  them  so  surely? 

Who  were  your  battle-flags? 

Call  the  shapes  from  the  mist, 

Call  the  dead  men  out  of  the  mist  and  watch  them  ride. 
Tall  the  first  rider,  tall  with  a  laughing  mouth, 
His  long  black  beard  is  combed  like  a  beauty's  hair, 
His  slouch  hat  plumed  with  a  curled  black  ostrich-feather, 
He  wears  gold  spurs  and  sits  his  horse  with  the  seat 
Of  a  horseman  born. 

It  is  Stuart  of  Laurel  Hill, 
"Beauty"  Stuart,  the  genius  of  cavalry, 
Reckless,  merry,  religious,  theatrical, 
Lover  of  gesture,  lover  of  panache, 
With  all  the  actor's  grace  and  the  quick,  light  charm 
That  makes  the  women  adore  him— a  wild  cavalier 
Who  worships  as  sober  a  God  as  Stonewall  Jackson, 
A  Rupert  who  seldom  drinks,  very  often  prays, 
Loves  his  children,  singing,  fighting,  spurs,  and  his  wife. 
Sweeney  his  banjo-player  follows  him. 
And  after  them  troop  the  young  Virginia  counties, 
Horses  and  men,  Botetort,  Halifax, 
Dinwiddie,  Prince  Edward,  Cumberland,  Nottoway, 
Mecklenburg,  Berkeley,  Augusta,  the  Marylanders, 
The  horsemen  never  matched  till  Sheridan  came. 
Now  the  phantom  guns  creak  by.  They  are  Pelham's  guns. 
That  quiet  boy  with  the  veteran  mouth  is  Pelham. 
He  is  twenty-two.  He  is  to  fight  sixty  battles 
And  never  lose  a  gun. 

The  cannon  roll  past, 
The  endless  lines  of  the  infantry  begin. 
A.  P.  Hill  leads  the  van.  He  is  small  and  spare, 
His  short,  clipped  beard  is  red  as  his  battleshirt, 
Jackson  and  Lee  are  to  call  him  in  their  death-hours. 
Dutch  Longstreet  follows,  slow,  pugnacious  and  stubborn, 
Hard  to  beat  and  just  as  hard  to  convince, 
Fine  corps  commander,  good  bulldog  for  holding  on, 
But  dangerous  when  he  tries  to  think  for  himself, 
He  thinks  for  himself  too  much  at  Gettysburg, 
But  before  and  after  he  grips  with  tenacious  jaws. 
There  is  D.  H.  Hill-there  is  Early  and  Fitzhugh  Lee— 
Yellow-haired  Hood  with  his  wounds  and  his  empty  sleeve, 

1 68 

Leading  his  Texans,  a  Viking  shape  of  a  man, 
With  the  thrust  and  lack  of  craft  of  a  berserk  sword, 
All  lion,  none  of  the  fox. 

When  he  supersedes 

Joe  Johnston,  he  is  lost,  and  his  army  with  him, 
But  he  could  lead  forlorn  hopes  with  the  ghost  of  Ney. 
His  bigboned  Texans  follow  him  into  the  mist. 
Who  follows  them? 

These  are  the  Virginia  faces, 
The  Virginia  speech.  It  is  Jackson's  foot-cavalry, 
The  Army  of  the  Valley, 
It  is  the  Stonewall  Brigade,  it  is  the  streams 
Of  the  Shenandoah,  marching. 

Ewell  goes  by, 

The  little  woodpecker,  bald  and  quaint  of  speech, 
With  his  wooden  leg  stuck  stiffly  out  from  his  saddle, 
He  is  muttering,  "Sir,  I'm  a  nervous  Major-General, 
And  whenever  an  aide  rides  up  from  General  Jackson 
I  fully  expect  an  order  to  storm  the  North  Pole." 
He  chuckles  and  passes,  full  of  crotchets  and  courage, 
Living  on  frumenty  for  imagined  dyspepsia, 
And  ready  to  storm  the  North  Pole  at  a  Jackson  phrase. 
Then  the  staff— then  little  Sorrel— and  the  plain 
Presbyterian  figure  in  the  flat  cap, 
Throwing  his  left  hand  out  in  the  Awkward  gesture 
That  caught  the  bullet  out  of  the  air  at  Bull  Run, 
Awkward,  rugged  and  dour,  the  belated  Ironside 
With  the  curious,  brilliant  streak  of  the  cavalier 
That  made  him  quote  Mercutio  in  staff  instructions, 
Love  lancet  windows,  the  color  of  passion-flowers, 
Mexican  sun  and  all  fierce,  taut-looking  fine  creatures; 
Stonewall  Jackson,  wrapped  in  his  beard  and  his  silence, 
Cromwell-eyed  and  ready  with  Cromwell's  short 
Bleak  remedy  for  doubters  and  fools  and  enemies, 
Hard  on  his  followers,  harder  on  his  foes, 
An  iron  sabre  vowed  to  an  iron  Lord, 
And  yet  the  only  man  of  those  men  who  pass 
With  a  strange,  secretive  grain  of  harsh  poetry 
Hidden  so  deep  in  the  stony  sides  of  his  heart 
That  it  shines  by  flashes  only  and  then  is  gone. 
It  glitters  in  his  last  words. 

He  is  deeply  ambitious, 


Jhe  skilled  man,  utterly  sure  of  his  own  skill 

And  taking  no  nonsense  about  it  from  the  unskilled, 

But  God  is  the  giver  of  victory  and  defeat, 

And  Lee,  on  earth,  vicegerent  under  the  Lord. 

Sometimes  he  differs  about  the  mortal  plans 

But  once  the  order  is  given,  it  is  obeyed. 

We  know  what  he  thought  about  God.  One  would  like  to  know 

What  he  thought  of  the  two  together,  if  he  so  mingled  them. 

He  said  two  things  about  Lee  it  is  well  to  recall. 

When  he  first  beheld  the  man  that  he  served  so  well, 

"I  have  never  seen  such  a  fine-looking  human  creature." 

Then,  afterwards,  at  the  height  of  his  own  fame, 

The  skilled  man  talking  of  skill,  and  something  more. 

"General  Lee  is  a  phenomenon, 

He  is  the  only  man  I  would  follow  blindfold." 

Think  of  those  two  remarks  and  the  man  who  made  them 

When  you  picture  Lee  as  the  rigid  image  in  marble. 

No  man  ever  knew  his  own  skill  better  than  Jackson 

Or  was  more  ready  to  shatter  an  empty  fame. 

He  passes  now  in  his  dusty  uniform. 

The  Bible  jostles  a  book  of  Napoleon's  Maxims 

And  a  magic  lemon  deep  in  his  saddlebags. 

And  now  at  last, 

Comes  Traveller  and  his  master.  Look  at  them  well. 

The  horse  is  an  iron-grey,  sixteen  hands  high, 

Short  back,  deep  chest,  strong  haunch,  flat  legs,  small  head, 

Delicate  ear,  quick  eye,  black  mane  and  tail, 

Wise  brain,  obedient  mouth. 

Such  horses  are 

The  jewels  of  the  horseman's  hands  and  thighs, 
They  go  by  the  word  and  hardly  need  the  rein. 
They  bred  such  horses  in  Virginia  then, 
Horses  that  were  remembered  after  death 
And  buried  not  so  far  from  Christian  ground 
That  if  their  sleeping  riders  should  arise 
They  could  not  witch  them  from  the  earth  again 
And  ride  a  printless  course  along  the  grass 
With  the  old  manage  and  light  ease  of  hand. 
The  rider,  now. 

He  too,  is  iron-grey, 
Though  the  thick  hair  and  thick,  blunt-pointed  beard 


Have  frost  in  them, 

Broad-foreheaded,  deep-eyed, 

Straight-nosed,  sweet-mouthed,  firm-lipped,  head  cleanly  set, 
He  and  his  horse  are  matches  for  the  strong 
Grace  of  proportion  that  inhabits  both. 
They  carry  nothing  that  is  in  excess 
And  nothing  that  is  less  than  symmetry, 
The  strength  of  Jackson  is  a  hammered  strength, 
Bearing  the  tool  marks  still.  This  strength  was  shaped 
By  as  hard  arts  but  does  not  show  the  toil 
Except  as  justness,  though  the  toil  was  there. 
—And  so  we  get  the  marble  man  again, 
The  head  on  the  Greek  coin,  the  idol-image, 
The  shape  who  stands  at  Washington's  left  hand, 
Worshipped,  uncomprehended  and  aloof, 
A  figure  lost  to  flesh  and  blood  and  bones, 
Frozen  into  a  legend  out  of  life, 
A  blank-verse  statue- 
How  to  humanize 

That  solitary  gentleness  and  strength 
Hidden  behind  the  deadly  oratory 
Of  twenty  thousand  Lee  Memorial  days, 
How  show,  in  spite  of  all  the  rhetoric, 
All  the  sick  honey  of  the  speechifiers, 
Proportion,  not  as  something  calm  congealed 
From  lack  of  fire,  but  ruling  such  a  fire 
As  only  such  proportion  could  contain? 

The  man  was  loved,  the  man  was  idolized, 
The  man  had  every  just  and  noble  gift. 
He  took  great  burdens  and  he  bore  them  well, 
Believed  in  God  but  did  not  preach  too  much, 
Believed  and  followed  duty  first  and  last 
With  marvellous  consistency  and  force, 
Was  a  great  victor,  in  defeat  as  great, 
No  more,  no  less,  always  himself  in  both, 
Could  make  men  die  for  him  but  saved  his  men 
Whenever  he  could  save  them— was  most  kind 
But  was  not  disobeyed— was  a  good  father, 
A  loving  husband,  a  considerate  friend: 
Had  little  humor,  but  enough  to  play 
Mild  jokes  that  never  wounded,  but  had  charm, 


Did  not  seek  intimates,  yet  drew  men  to  him, 
Did  not  seek  fame,  did  not  protest  against  it, 
Knew  his  own  value  without  pomp  or  jealousy 
AnH  died  as  he  preferred  to  live— sans  phrase, 
With  commonsense,  tenacity  and  courage, 
A  Greek  proportion— and  a  riddle  unread. 
And  everything  that  we  have  said  is  true 
And  nothing  helps  us  yet  to  read  the  man, 
Nor  will  he  help  us  while  he  has  the  strength 
To  keep  his  heart  his  own. 

For  he  will  smile 

And  give  you,  with  unflinching  courtesy, 
Prayers,  trappings,  letters,  uniforms  and  orders, 
Photographs,  kindness,  valor  and  advice, 
And  do  it  with  such  grace  and  gentleness 
That  you  will  know  you  have  the  whole  of  him 
Pinned  down,  mapped  out,  easy  to  understand— 
And  so  you  have. 

All  things  except  the  heart. 
The  heart  he  kept  himself,  that  answers  all. 
For  here  was  someone  who  lived  all  his  life 
In  the  most  fierce  and  open  light  of  the  sun, 
Wr®te  letters  freely,  did  not  guard  his  speech, 
Listened  and  talked  with  every  sort  of  man, 
And  kept  his  heart  a  secret  to  the  end 
From  all  the  picklocks  of  biographers. 

He  was  a  man,  and  as  a  man  he  knew 

Love,  separation,  sorrow,  joy  and  death. 

He  was  a  master  of  the  tricks  of  war, 

He  gave  great  strokes  and  warded  strokes  as  great. 

He  was  the  prop  and  pillar  of  a  State, 

The  incarnation  of  a  national  dream, 

And  when  the  State  fell  and  the  dream  dissolved 

He  must  have  liveH  with  bitterness  itself— 

But  what  his  sorrow  was  and  what  his  joy, 

And  how  he  felt  in  the  expense  of  strength, 

And  how  his  heart  contained  its  bitterness, 

He  will  not  tell  us. 

We  can  lie  about  him, 
Dress  up  a  dummy  in  his  uniform 
And  put  our  words  into  the  dummy's  mouth, 


Say  "Here  Lee  must  have  thought,"  and  "There,  no  doubt, 
By  what  we  know  of  him,  we  may  suppose 
He  felt— this  pang  or  that—"  but  he  remains 
Beyond  our  stagecraft,  reticent  as  ice, 
Reticent  as  the  fire  within  the  stone. 

Yet— look  at  the  face  again—look  at  it  well— 

This  man  was  not  repose,  this  man  was  act. 

This  man  who  murmured  "It  is  well  that  war 

Should  be  so  terrible,  if  it  were  not 

We  might  become  too  fond  of  it—"  and  showed 

Himself,  for  once,  completely  as  he  lived 

In  the  laconic  balance  of  that  phrase; 

This  man  could  reason,  but  he  was  a  fighter, 

Skilful  in  every  weapon  of  defence 

But  never  defending  when  he  could  assault, 

Taking  enormous  risks  again  and  again, 

Never  retreating  while  he  still  could  strike, 

Dividing  a  weak  force  on  dangerous  ground 

And  joining  it  again  to  beat  a  strong, 

Mocking  at  chance  and  all  the  odds  of  war 

With  acts  that  looked  like  hairbreadth  recklessness 

—We  do  not  call  them  reckless,  since  they  won. 

We  do  not  see  him  reckless  for  the  calm 

Propojjion  that  controlled  the  recklessness— 

But  that  attacking  quality  was  there. 

He  was  not  mild  with  life  or  drugged  with  justice, 

He  gripped  life  like  a  wrestler  with  a  bull, 

Impetuously.  It  did  not  come  to  him 

While  he  stood  waiting  in  a  famous  cloud, 

He  went  to  it  and  took  it  by  both  horns 

And  threw  it  down. 

Oh,  he  could  bear  the  shifts 
Of  time  and  play  the  bitter  loser's  game, 
The  slow,  unflinching  chess  of  fortitude, 
But  while  he  had  an  opening  for  attack 
He  would  attack  with  every  ounce  of  strength. 
His  heart  was  not  a  stone  but  trumpet-shaped 
And  a  long  challenge  blew  an  anger  through  it 
That  was  more  dread  for  being  musical 
First,  last,  and  to  the  end. 

Again  he  said 


A  curious  thing  to  life. 

"I'm  always  wanting  something." 

The  brief  phrase 

Slides  past  us,  hardly  grasped  in  the  smooth  flow 
Of  the  well-balanced,  mildly-humorous  prose 
That  goes  along  to  talk  of  cats  and  duties, 
Maxims  of  conduct,  farming  and  poor  bachelors, 
But  for  a  second  there,  the  marble  cracked 
And  a  strange  man  we  never  saw  before 
Showed  us  the  face  he  never  showed  the  world 
And  wanted  something— not  the  general 
Who  wanted  shoes  and  food  for  ragged  men, 
Not  the  good  father  wanting  for  his  children, 
The  patriot  wanting  victory—all  the  Lees 
Whom  all  the  world  could  see  and  recognize 
And  hang  with  gilded  laurels— but  the  man 
Who  had,  you'd  say,  all  things  that  life  can  give 
Except  the  last  success— and  had,  for  that, 
Such  glamor  as  can  wear  sheer  triumph  out, 
Proportion's  son  and  Duty's  eldest  sword 
And  the  calm  mask  who— wanted  something  still, 
Somewhere,  somehow  and  always. 

Picklock  biographers, 
What  could  he  want  that  he  had  never  had? 

He  only  said  it  once— the  marble  closed- 
There  was  a  man  enclosed  within  that  image. 
There  was  a  force  that  tried  Proportion's  rule 
And  died  without  a  legend  or  a  cue 
To  bring  it  back.  The  shadow-Lees  still  live. 
But  the  first-person  and  the  singular  Lee? 

The  ant  finds  kingdoms  in  a  foot  of  ground 
But  earth's  too  small  for  something  in  our  earth, 
We'll  make  a  new  earth  from  the  summer's  cloud, 
From  the  pure  summer's  cloud. 

It  was  not  that, 

It  was  not  God  or  love  or  mortal  fame. 
It  was  not  anything  he  left  undone. 
—What  does  Proportion  want  that  it  can  lack? 
—What  does  the  ultimate  hunger  of  the  flesh 
Want  from  the  sky  more  than  a  sky  of  air? 


He  wanted  something.  That  must  be  enough. 
Now  he  rides  Traveller  back  into  the  mist. 

Continual  guns,  be  silent  for  a  moment, 

Be  silent,  now. 

We  know  your  thirst.  We  hear  the  roll  of  your  wheels 

Crushing  down  tangled  June, 

Virginia  June, 

With  tires  of  iron,  with  heavy  caissons  creaking, 

Crushing  down  maidenhair  and  wilderness-seal, 

Scaring  the  rabbit  and  the  possum-children, 

Scaring  the  redbird  and  the  mockingbird 

As  McClellan's  army  moves  forward. 

We  know  your  bloody  thirst  so  soon  to  be  slaked 

With  the  red  burst-grape  juices. 

But  now,  we  would  have  you  silent,  a  little  moment, 

We  would  have  you  hold  your  peace  and  point  at  the  moon 

For  when  you  speak,  we  can  hear  no  sound  but  your  sound, 

And  we  would  hear  the  voices  of  men  and  women 

For  a  little  while. 

Jake  Diefer,  the  barrel-chested  Pennsylvanian, 
Shippy,  the  little  man  with  the  sharp  rat-eyes, 
Luke  Breckinridge,  the  gawky  boy  from  the  hills, 
Clay  Wingate,  Melora  Vilas,  Sally  Dupre, 
The  slaves  in  the  cabins,  ragged  Spade  in  the  woods, 
We  have  lost  these  creatures  under  a  falling  hammer. 
We  must  look  for  them  now,  again. 

Jake  Diefer  is  with  the  assault  that  comes  from  the  ships, 

He  has  marched,  he  has  fought  at  Fair  Oaks,  but  he  looks  the 


A  slow-thought-chewing  Clydesdale  horse  of  a  man 
Who  doesn't  think  much  of  the  way  that  they  farm  down  here. 
The  sun  may  be  good,  if  you  like  that  sort  of  sun, 
But  the  barns  and  the  fields  are  different,  they  don't  look  right, 
They  don't  look  like  Pennsylvania. 

He  spits  and  wonders. 

Whenever  he  can,  he  reads  a  short,  crumpled  letter 
And  tries  to  puzzle  out  from  the  round,  stiff  writing 

How  things  are  back  on  the  farm. 

The  boy's  a  good  boy 

But  the  boy  can't  do  it  all,  or  the  woman  either. 
He  knows  too  much  about  weather  and  harvest-hands 
—It's  all  right  fighting  the  Rebels  to  save  the  Union 
But  they  ought  to  get  through  with  it  quicker,  now  they've 


They  don't  take  the  way  the  crops  are  into  account, 
You  can't  go  off  and  leave  a  farm  like  a  store, 
And  you  can't  expect  a  boy  to  know  everything, 
Or  a  hired  man.  No,  sir. 

He  walks  along  like  an  ox. 
—He'd  like  to  see  the  boy  and  the  woman  again, 
Eat  pancakes  and  sleep  in  a  bed  and  look  at  the  hay— 
This  business  comes  first  but  after  it's  finished  up— 
He  can't  say  he's  bothered  exactly  most  of  the  time. 
The  weather  bothers  him  more  than  anything. 
He  knows  it's  not  the  same  sort  of  weather  down  here, 
But  every  day  when  he  wakes,  he  looks  at  the  sky 
And  tries  to  figure  out  what  it's  like  back  home. 

Shippy,  the  little  man  with  the  sharp  rat-eyes, 
Creeps  into  an  old  house  in  beleaguered  Richmond 
And  meets  a  woman  dressed  in  severe  black  silk 
With  a  gentle  voice,  soft  delicate  useless  hands, 
A  calm,  smooth,  faded,  handsome  mask  of  a  face 
And  an  incredible  secret  under  her  brooches. 
You  would  picture  her  with  ivory  crochet-needles 
Demurely  tatting,  demurely  singing  mild  hymns 
To  an  old  melodeon  before  a  blurred  mirror. 
She  is  to  live  in  Richmond  throughout  the  war, 
A  Union  spy,  never  caught,  never  once  suspected, 
And  when  she  dies,  she  dies  with  a  shut  prim  mouth 
Locked  on  her  mystejy. 

Shippy  is  afraid. 

She  gives  him  instructions,  he  tries  to  remember  them. 
But  his  hands  are  sweating,  his  eyes  creep  around  the  floor. 
He  is  afraid  of  the  rustle  of  the  black  silk. 
He  wishes  he  were  back  in  Pollet's  Hotel 
With  Sophy,  the  chambermaid. 

The  woman  talks 
And  he  listens,  while  the  woman  looks  through  and  through  him. 

Melora  Vilas,  rising  by  crack  of  dawn, 

Looked  at  herself  in  the  bottom  of  her  tin  basin 

And  wished  that  she  had  a  mirror. 

She  thought  dully, 

"He's  been  gone  two  months.  I  can't  get  used  to  it  yet. 
I've  got  to  get  used  to  it.  Maybe  I'll  die  instead. 
No,  I'd  know  if  he'd  died." 

Sally  Dupre  was  tired  of  scraping  lint 

Bat  her  hands  kept  on.  The  hours,  sunbonneted  women, 

Passed  and  passed.  "If  he  ever  comes  back  to  me!" 

She  finished  her  scraping  and  wondered  how  to  make  coffee 

Out  of  willow-bark  and  life  from  a  barren  stick.  .  .  . 

Spade  the  fugitive  stared  at  the  bleak  North  Star.  .  .  . 

Luke  Breckinridge,  on  picket  out  in  the  woods, 

Remembered  a  chambermaid  at  Pollet's  Hotel. 

And  wanted  a  fight.  He  hadn't  been  lucky,  of  late. 

Jim,  his  cousin,  was  lucky,  out  in  the  West, 

Riding  a  horse  and  capturing  Yankee  scouts. 

But  his  winter  here  had  been  nothing  but  work  and  mud, 

He'd  nearly  got  courtmartialed  a  dozen  times, 

Though  they  knew  how  he  could  shoot. 

The  chambermaid's  name 
Was  Sophy.  She  was  little  and  scared  and  thin, 
But  he  liked  her  looks  and  he  liked  the  size  of  her  eyes, 
He'd  like  to  feed  her  up  and  see  how  she  looked, 
If  they  ever  got  through  with  fighting  the  Yankees  here. 
The  Yankees  weren't  all  Kelceys.  He  knew  that  now, 
But  he  always  looked  for  Kelceys  whenever  he  fought.  .  .  . 
Clay  Wingatc  slept  in  his  cloak  and  dreamed  of  a  girl 
With  Sally's  face  and  Lucy  Weatherby's  mouth 
And  waked  again 

To  know  today  there  would  be  continual  guns. 
Continual  guns,  silent  so  brief  a  moment, 
Speak  again,  now, 
For  now  your  ignorance 
Drowns  out  the  little  voices  of  human  creatures. 
Jackson  slips  from  the  Valley  where  he  has  played 
A  dazzling  game  against  Banks  and  Shield  and  Fremont 
And  threatened  the  chess-game-king  of  Washington 
Till  strong  pieces  meant  to  join  in  McClellan's  game 
Are  held  to  defend  that  king. 


And  now  the  two, 

Jackson  and  Lee,  strike  hard  for  Seven  Days 
At  the  host  come  up  from  its  ships,  come  up  from  the  sea 
To  take  the  city  set  on  a  deck  of  land, 
Till  the  deck  is  soaked  and  red  with  a  bloody  juice. 
And  the  host  goes  back. 

You  can  read  in  the  histories 
How  the  issue  wavered,  the  fog  of  tiny  events, 
How  here,  at  one  dot,  McClellan  might  have  wrung 
A  victory,  perhaps,  with  his  larger  force, 
And  there,  on  the  other  hand,  played  canny  and  well; 
How  Jackson,  for  once,  moved  slowly,  how  Porter  held, 
And  the  bitter,  exhausted  wrestling  of  Malvern  Hill. 
What  we  know  is  this. 

The  host  from  the  ships  went  back, 
Hurt  but  not  broken,  hammered  but  undestroyed, 
To  find  a  new  base  far  up  the  crook  of  the  James 
And  rest  there,  panting. 

Lincoln  and  Halleck  come. 

The  gaunt,  plain  face  is  deeper  furrowed  than  ever, 
The  eyes  are  strained  with  looking  at  books  of  tactics 
And  trying  to  understand. 

There  is  so  much 

For  one  man  to  understand,  so  many  lies, 
So  much  half-truth,  so  many  counselling  voices, 
So  much  death  to  be  sown  and  reaped  and  still  no  end. 
The  dead  of  the  Seven  Days.  The  four  months  dead 
Boy  who  used  to  play  with  a  doll  named  Jack, 
Was  a  bright  boy  as  boys  are  reckoned  and  now  is  dead. 
The  doll  named  Jack  was  sometimes  a  Union  soldier, 
Sometimes  a  spy. 

The  boy  and  his  brother  held 
A  funeral  in  the  White  House  flower-beds 
After  suitably  executing  the  doll  named  Jack 
But  then  they  thought  of  a  different  twist  to  the  game. 
The  gaunt  man  signed  a  paper. 

"The  doll  named  Jack 
Is  pardoned.  By  order  of  the  President. 
A.  Lincoln." 

So  Jack  was  held  in  honor  awhile 

But  next  day  the  boy  and  his  brother  forgot  the  pardon 
And  the  doll  named  Jack  was  shot  and  buried  once  more. 

So  much  death  to  be  sown  and  reaped. 

So  much  death  to  be  sown 
By  one  no  sower  of  deaths. 

And  still  no  end. 

The  council  is  held.  The  chiefs  and  captains  debate. 
McClellan  clings  to  his  plan  of  storming  the  deck 
From  the  water  ways.  He  is  cool  now.  He  argues  well. 
He  has  written  Lincoln  "From  the  brink  of  eternity" 
—A  strained,  high-flown,  remarkable  speech  of  a  letter 
Of  the  sort  so  many  have  written  and  still  will  write— 
Telling  how  well  he  has  done  in  saving  his  army, 
No  thanks  to  the  Government,  or  to  anything  else 
But  the  pith  of  his  fighting-men  and  his  own  craft. 
Lincoln  reads  and  pockets  the  speech  and  thanks  him. 
There  had  been  craft  and  courage  in  that  retreat 
And  much  was  due  to  McClellan. 

The  others  speak. 

Some  corps  commanders  agree  and  some  demur, 
The  Peninsula-stroke  has  failed  and  will  fail  again. 
Elbow-rubbing  Halleck,  newly-made  chief  of  staff, 
Called  "Old  Brains/'  for  reasons  that  history 
Still  tries  to  fathom,  demurs.  He  urges  withdrawal. 
Washington  must  be  defended  first  and  last- 
Withdraw  the  army  and  put  it  in  front  of  Washington. 
Lincoln  listens  to  all  as  he  tries  to  sift 
The  mustardseed  from  the  twenty  barrels  of  chaff 
With  patient  hands. 

There  has  been  a  growth  in  the  man, 
A  tempering  of  will  in  these  trotting  months 
Whose  strong  hoofs  striking  have  scarred  him  again  and  again. 
He  still  rules  more  by  the  rein  than  by  whip  or  spur 
But  the  reins  are  fast  in  his  hands  and  the  horses  know  it. 
He  no  longer  says  "I  think,"  but  "I  have  decided." 
And  takes  the  strength  and  the  burden  of  such  decision 
For  good  or  bad  on  himself. 

He  will  bear  all  things 

But  lack  of  faith  in  the  Union  and  that  not  once. 
Now  at  last  he  decides  to  recall  McClellan's  army 
For  right  or  wrong. 

We  see  the  completed  thing, 
Long  afterward,  knowing  all  that  was  still  to  come, 


And  say  "He  was  wrong." 

He  saw  the  incomplete, 

The  difficult  chance  that  might  turn  a  dozen  ways 
And  so  decided. 

Be  it  so.  He  was  wrong. 

So  the  deck  is  cleared  and  the  host  goes  back  to  its  ships. 

The  bells  in  the  Richmond  churches,  clanging  for  Sunday, 

Clang  as  if  silver  were  mixed  in  their  sweet  bell-metal, 

The  dark  cloud  lifts,  the  girls  wear  flowers  again. 

Virginia  June, 

Crushed  under  cannon,  under  the  cannon  ruts, 

The  trampled  grass  lifts  up  its  little  green  guidons, 

The  honeysuckle  and  the  eglantine 

Blow  on  their  tiny  trumpets, 

Blow  out  "Dixie," 

Blow  out  "Lorena,"  blow  the  "Bonnie  Blue  Flag" 

—There  are  many  dead,  there  are  many  too  many  dead, 

The  hospitals  are  crowded  with  broken  dolls— 

But  cotton  has  won  again,  cotton  is  haughty, 

Cotton  is  mounting  again  to  a  sleepy  throne, 

Wheat  and  iron  recoil  from  the  fields  of  cotton, 

The  sweet  grass  grows  over  them,  the  cotton  blows  over  them, 

One  more  battle  and  free,  free,  free  forever. 

Cotton  moves  North  in  a  wave,  in  a  white-crested 

Wave  of  puff-blossoms—in  a  long  grey  coil 

Of  marching  men  with  tongues  as  dry  as  cotton. 

Cotton  and  honeysuckle  and  eglantine 

Move  North  in  a  drenching  wave  of  blossom  and  guns 

To  wash  out  wheat  and  iron  forever  and  ever. 

There  will  be  other  waves  that  set  toward  the  North, 

There  will  be  a  high  tide, 

But  this  is  the  high  hour. 

Jackson  has  still  three  hammerstrokes  to  strike, 

Lee  is  still  master  of  the  attacking  sword, 

Stuart  still  carries  his  black  feather  high. 

Put  silver  in  your  bell-metal,  Richmond  bells, 

The  wave  of  the  cotton  goes  North  to  your  sweet  ringing, 

The  first  great  raiding  wave  of  the  Southern  dream. 

Jack  Ellyat,  in  prison  deep  in  the  South, 

Gaunt,  bearded,  dirty  old  man  with  the  captive  eyes, 

1 80 

Lay  on  his  back  and  stared  at  the  flies  on  the  wall 

And  tried  to'  remember,  through  an  indifferent  mist, 

A  green  place  lost  in  the  woods  and  a  herd  of  black  swine. 

They  came  and  went  and  the  mist  moved  round  them  again. 

The  mist  was  not  death.  He  was  used  to  death  by  now, 

But  the  mist  still  puzzled  him,  sometimes. 

It  was  curious—being  so  weak  and  yet  used  to  death. 

When  you  were  strong,  you  thought  of  death  as  a  strong 

Rider  on  a  black  horse,  perhaps,  or  at  least 

As  some  strong  creature,  dreadful  because  so  strong. 

But  when  you  were  "weak  and  lived  in  a  place  like  this, 

Things  changed.  There  was  nothing  strong  about  death  any  more, 

He  was  only  the  gnawed  rat-bone  on  the  dirty  floor, 

That  you  stumbled  across  and  hardly  bothered  to  curse. 

That  was  all. 

The  two  Michigan  men  had  died  last  night. 
The  Ohio  brothers  were  going  to  die  this  week, 
You  got  pretty  soon  so  you  knew  when  people  would  die, 
It  passed  the  time  as  well  as  carving  bone-rings, 
Playing  checkers  with  straws  or  learning  Italian  nouns 
From  the  lanky  schoolteacher-sergeant  from  Vermont. 
Somewhere,  sometime,  in  a  tent,  by  a  red  loud  noise, 
Under  a  dirty  coat  and  a  slab  of  tobacco, 
He  had  lost  a  piece  of  himself,  a  piece  of  life. 
He  couldn't  die  till  he  got  that  piece  of  him  back 
And  felt  its  ragged  edges  fit  in-  his  heart. 
Or  so  he  thought.  Sometimes,  when  he  slept,  he  felt 
As  if  he  were  getting  it  back—but  most  of  the  time 
tt  was  only  the  mist  and  counting  the  flies  that  bothered  him. 
He  heard  a  footstep  near  him  and  turned  his  head. 
;'Hcllo,  Charley,"  he  said,  "Where  you  been?" 

Bailey's  face  looked  strange, 
The  red,  hot  face  of  a  hurt  and  angry  boy, 
'Out  hearing  the  Rebs,"  he  said.  He  spat  on  the  floor 
And  broke  into  long,  blue  curses.  When  he  was  through, 
'Did  you  hear  them?"  he  asked.  Jack  Ellyat  tried  to  remember 
A,  gnat-noise  buzzing  the  mist.  "I  guess  so,"  he  said. 
'What  was  it?  Two-bottle  Ed  on  another  tear?" 
''Hell,"  said  Bailey.  "They  cheered.  They've  licked  us  again. 
The  news  just  come.  It  happened  back  at  Bull  Run." 
''You're  crazy,"  said  Ellyat.  "That  was  the  start  of  the  war. 
1  was  in  that  one." 


"Oh,  don't  be  a  fool,"  said  Bailey, 
•'They  licked  us  again,  I  tell  you,  the  same  old  place. 
Pope's  army's  ruined." 

"Who's  he?"  said  Ellyat  wearily. 

"Aw,  we  had  him  out  West— he's  God  Almighty's  pet  horse, 
He  came  East  and  told  all  the  papers  how  good  he  was, 
'Headquarters  in  the  saddle'!"  Bailey  snickered. 
"Well,  they  snaffled  his  saddle  and  blame  near  snaffled  him, 
Jackson  and  Lee— anyhow  they  licked  us  again." 

"What  about  Little  Mac?" 

"Well,  Gawd  knows  what's  happened  to  him" 
Said  Bailey,  flatly,  "Maybe  he's  captured,  too, 
Maybe  they  captured  Old  Abe  and  everyone  else. 
I  don't  know— you  can't  tell  from  those  lyin'  Rebs." 

There  was  a  silence.  Ellyat  lay  on  his  back 

And  watched  the  flies  on  the  wall  for  quite  a  long  time. 

"I  wish  I  had  a  real  newspaper,"  said  Bailey, 

"Not  one  of  your  Richmond  wipers.  By  God,  you  know,  Jack, 

When  wre  get  back  home,  I'll  read  a  newspaper,  sometimes. 

I  never  was  much  at  rcadin'  the  newspaper 

But  I'd  like  to  read  one  now,  say  once  in  a  while?' 

Ellyat  laughed. 

"You  know,  Charley,"  he  said  at  last. 
"We've  got  to  get  out  of  this  place." 

Bailey  joined  in  the  laugh. 

Then  he  stopped  and  stared  at  the  other  with  anxious  eyes. 
"You  don't  look  crazy,"  he  said,  "Stop  countin'  those  flies." 
Ellyat  raised  himself  on  one  arm. 

"No,  honest,  Charley, 

I  mean  it,  damn  it.  We've  got  to  get  out  of  here. 
I  know  we  can't  but  we've  got  to.  .  .  ." 

He  swallowed  dryly. 

"Look  here—"  he  said,  "It  just  came  over  me  then. 
I've  got  a  girl  and  she  doesn't  know  where  I  am. 
I  left  her  back  in  a  tent— no,  that  wasn't  a  girl— 
And  you  say  we  got  licked  again.  But  that's  just  it,  Charley. 
We  get  licked  too  much.  We've  got  to  get  out  of  here." 

He  sank  back  to  the  floor  and  shut  his  ghost-ridden  eyes. 
Bailey  regarded  him  for  a  long,  numb  moment. 


"You  couldn't  walk  a  mile  and  a  half,"  he  muttered, 
"And,  by  God,  I  couldn't  carry  you  twenty  feet, 
And,  by  God,  if  we  could,  there  ain't  no  way  to  get  out. 
But  all  the  same-"  ' 

"If  there  was  any  use  tryin'," 
He  said,  half-pleadingly,  half-defiantly, 
"I  tell  you,  Jack,  if  there  was  any  use  try  in'— " 
He  stopped.  Ellyat's  eyes  were  shut.  He  rose  with  great  care. 
"I'll  get  you  some  water,"  he  muttered.  "No,  let  you  sleep." 
He  sat  down  again  and  stared  at  the  sleeping  face. 
"He  looks  bad,"  he  thought.  "I  guess  I  look  bad  myself. 
I  guess  the  kid's  goin'  to  die  if  we  don't  get  out. 
I  guess  we're  both  goin'  to  die.  I  don't  see  why  not." 
He  looked  up  at  the  flies  on  the  ceiling  and  shook  his  fist. 
"Listen,  you  dirty  Rebs,"  he  said,  unuer  his  breath, 
"Flap  your  goddam  wings— we're  goin'  to  get  out  of  here!" 

John  Brown  lies  dead  in  his  grave  and  does  not  stir, 
It  is  nearly  three  years  since  he  died  and  he  does  not  stir, 
There  is  no  sound  in  his  bones  but  the  sound  of  armies 
And  that  is  an  old  sound. 

He  walks,  you  will  say,  he  walks  in  front  of  the  armies, 
A  straggler  met  him,  going  along  to  Manassas, 
With  his  gun  on  his  shoulder,  his  phantom-sons  at  heel, 
His  eyes  like  misty  coals. 

A  dead  man  saw  him  striding  at  Seven  Pines, 
The  bullets  whistling  through  him  like  a  torn  flag, 
A  madman  saw  him  whetting  a  sword  on  a  Bible, 
A  cloud  above  Malvern  Hill. 

But  these  are  all  lies.  He  slumbers.  He  does  not  stir. 
The  spring  rains  and  the  winter  snows  on  his  slumber 
And  the  bones  of  his  flesh  breed  armies  and  yet  more  armies 
But  he  himself  does  not  stir. 

It  will  take  more  than  cannon  to  shake  his  fortress, 
His  song  is  alive  and  throbs  in  the  tramp  of  the  columns, 
His  song  is  smoke  blown  out  of  the  mouth  of  a  cannon, 
But  his  song  and  he  are  two. 

The  South  goes  ever  forward,  the  slave  is  not  free, 

The  great  stone  gate  of  the  Union  crumbles  and  totters, 

The  cotton-blossoms  are  pushing  the  blocks  apart, 

The  roots  of  cotton  grow  in  the  crevices, 

(John  Brown's  body  lies  a-mouldering  in  the  grave.) 

Soon  the  fight  will  be  over,  the  slaves  will  be  slaves  forever. 

(John  Brown's  body  lies  a-mouldering  in  the  grave.) 

You  did  not  fight  for  the  Union  or  wish  it  well, 

You  fought  for  the  single  dream  of  a  man  unchained 

And  God's  great  chariot  rolling.  You  fought  like  the  thrown 

Stone,  but  the  fighters  have  forgotten  your  dream. 

(John  Brown's  body  lies  a-mouldering  in  the  grave.) 

You  fought  for  a  people  you  did  not  comprehend, 

For  a  symbol  chained  by  a  symbol  in  your  own  mind, 

But,  unless  you  arise,  that  people  will  not  be  free. 

Are  there  no  seeds  of  thunder  left  in  your  bones 

Except  to  breed  useless  armies? 

(John  Brown's  body  lies  a-mouldering  in  the  grave.) 

Arise,  John  Brown, 

Call  up  your  sons  from  the  ground, 

In  smoky  wreaths,  call  up  your  sons  to  heel, 

Call  up  the  clumsy  country  boys  you  armed 

With  crazy  pikes  and  a  fantastic  mind. 

Call  up  the  American  names, 

Kagi,  the  self-taught  scholar,  quiet  and  cool, 

Stevens,  the  cashiered  soldier,  bawling  his  song, 

Dangerfield  Newby,  the  freed  Scotch-mulatto, 

Watson  and  Oliver  Brown  and  all  the  hard-dying. 

Call  up  the  slug-riddled  dead  of  Harper's  Ferry 

And  cast  them  down  the  wind  on  a  raid  again. 

This  is  the  dark  hour, 

This  is  the  ebb-tide, 

This  is  the  sunset,  this  is  the  defeat. 

The  cotton-blossoms,are  growing  up  to  the  sky, 

The  great  stone  gate  of  the  Union  sinks  beneath  them, 

And  under  the  giant  blossoms  lies  Egypt's  land, 

The  dark  river, 

The  ground  of  bondage,  ' 

The  chained  men. 

If  the  great  gate  falls,  the  cotton  grows  over  your  dream. 

Find  your  heart,  John  Brown, 

(A-mouldering  in  the  grave.) 


Call  your  sons  and  get  your  pikes, 

(A-mouldering  in  the  grave.) 

Your  song  goes  on,  but  the  slave  is  still  a  slave, 

And  all  Egypt's  land  rides  Northward  while  you  moulder  in  the 


Rise  up,  John  Brown, 
(A-mouldering  in  the  grave.) 
Go  down,  John  Brown, 
(Against  all  Egypt's  land) 
Go  down,  John  Brown, 
Go  down,  John  Brown, 
Go  down,  John  Brown,  and  set  that  people  free! 


It  was  still  hot  in  Washington,  that  September, 
Hot  in  the  city,  hot  in  the  White  House  rooms, 
Desiccate  heat,  dry  as  a  palm-leaf  fan, 
That  makes  hot  men  tuck  cotton  handkerchiefs 
Between  their  collars  and  their  sweaty  necks, 
And  Northern  girls  look  limp  at  half-past-four, 
Waiting  the  first  cool  breath  that  will  not  come 
For  hours  yet. 

The  sentinel  on  post 

Clicks  back  and  forth,  stuffed  in  his  sweltering  coat, 
And  dreams  about  brown  bottles  of  cold  beer 
Deep  in  a  cellar. 

In  the  crowded  Bureaus 

The  peris  move  slow,  the  damp  clerks  watch  the  clock. 
Women  in  houses  take  their  corsets  off 
And  stifle  in  loose  gowns. 

They  could  lie  down 

But  when  they  touch  the  bed,  the  bed  feels  hot, 
And  there  are  things  to  do. 

The  men  will  want 
Hot  food  when  they  come  back  from  work. 

They  sigh 
And  turn,  with  dragging  feet,  to  the  hot  kitchens. 

Sometimes  they  pause,  and  push  a  window  up 
To  feel  the  blunt,  dry  buffet  of  the  heat 

Strike  in  the  face  and  hear  the  locust-cry 
Of  shrilling  newsboy-voices  down  the  street, 
"News  from  the  army— extra— ter-ble  battle— 
Terr-r-ble  vic'try— ter-r-ble  defeat- 
Lee's  army  trapped  invading  Maryland— 
McClellan— Sharpsburg— fightin'— news  from  the  front—" 
The  women  at  the  windows  sigh  and  wonder 
"I  ought  to  buy  a  paper— No,  I'll  wait 
Till  Tom  gets  home— I  wonder  if  it's  true- 
Terrible  victory— terrible  defeat— 
They're  always  saying  that— when  Tom  gets  home 
He'll  have  some  news— I  wonder  if  the  army- 
No,  it's  too  hot  to  buy  a  paper  now—" 

A  hot,  spare  day  of  waiting  languidly 
For  contradictory  bits  of  dubious  news. 

It  was  a  little  cooler,  three  miles  out, 

Where  the  tall  trees  shaded  the  Soldiers'  Home. 

The  lank  man,  Abraham  Lincoln,  found  it  so, 

Glad  for  it,  doubtless,  though  his  cavernous  eyes 

Had  stared  all  day  into  a  distant  fog 

Trying  to  pierce  it. 

"General  McClellan 

Is  now  in  touch  with  Lee  in  front  of  Sharpsburg 
And  will  attack  as  soon  as  the  fog  clears." 

It's  cleared  by  now.  They  must  be  fighting  now. 

We  can't  expect  much  from  the  first  reports. 
Stanton  and  Halleck  think  they're  pretty  good 
But  you  can't  tell.  Nobody  here  can  tell. 
We're  all  too  far  away. 

You  get  sometimes 

Feeling  as  if  youjieard  the  guns  yourself 
Here  in  the  room  and  felt  them  shake  the  house 
When  you  keep  waiting  for  the  news  all  day. 
I  wish  we'd  get  some  news. 

Bull  Run  was  first. 

We  got  the  news  of  Bull  Run  soon  enough. 
First  that  we'd  won,  hands  down,  which  was  a  lie, 
And  then  the  truth. 

It  may  be  that  to-day. 


I  told  McClclIan  not  to  let  them  go, 
Destroy  them  if  he  could—but  you  can't  tell. 
He's  a  good  man  in  lots  of  different  ways, 
But  he  can't  seem  to  finish  what  he  starts 
And  then,  he's  jealous,  like  the  rest  of  them, 
Lets  Pope  get  beaten,  wanted  him  to  fail, 
Because  he  don't  like  Pope. 

I  put  him  back 

Into  command.  What  else  was  there  to  do? 
Nobody  else  could  lick  those  troops  in  shape. 
But,  if  he  wins,  and  lets  Lee  get  away, 
I'm  done  with  him. 

Bull  Run— the  Seven  Days- 
Bull  Run  again— and  eighteen  months  of  war— 
And  still  no  end  to  it. 

What  is  God's  will? 

They  come  to  me  and  talk  about  God's  will 

In  righteous  deputations  and  platoons, 

Day  after  day,  laymen  and  ministers. 

They  write  me  Prayers  From  Twenty  Million  Souls 

Defining  me  God's  will  and  Horace  Greeley's. 

God's  will  is  General  This  and  Senator  That, 

God's  will  is  those  poor  colored  fellows'  will, 

It  is  the  will  of  the  Chicago  churches, 

It  is  this  man's  and  his  worst  enemy's. 

But  all  of  them  are  sure  they  know  God's  will. 

I  am  the  only  man  who  does  not  know  it. 

And,  yet,  if  it  is  probable  that  God 
Should,  and  so  very  clearly,  state  His  will 
To  others,  on  a  point  of  my  own  duty, 
It  might  be  thought  He  would  reveal  it  me 
Directly,  more  especially  as  I 
So  earnestly  desire  to  know  His  will. 

The  will  of  God  prevails.  No  doubt,  no  doubt- 
Yet,  in  great  contests,  each  side  claims  to  act 
In  strict  accordance  with  the  will  of  God. 
Both  may,  one  must  be  wrong. 

God  could  have  saved 
This  Union  or  destroyed  it  without  war 

If  He  so  wished.  And  yet  this  war  began, 

And,  once  begun,  goes  on,  though  He  could  give 

Victory,  at  any  time,  to  either  side. 

It  is  unfathomable.  Yet  I  know 

This,  and  this  only.  While  I  live  and  breathe, 

I  mean  to  save  the  Union  if  I  can, 

And  by  whatever  means  my  hands  can  find 

Under  the  Constitution. 

If  God  reads 

The  hearts  of  men  as  clearly  as  He  must 
To  be  Himself,  then  He  can  read  in  mine 
And  has,  for  twenty  years,  the  old,  scarred  wish 
That  the  last  slave  should  be  forever  free 
Here,  in  this  country. 

I  do  not  go  back 
From  that  scarred  wish  and  have  not. 

But  I  put 

The  Union,  first  and  last,  before  the  slave. 
If  freeing  slaves  will  bring  the  Union  back 
Then  I  will  free  them;  if  by  freeing  some 
And  leaving  some  enslaved  I  help  my  cause, 
I  will  do  that— but  should  such  freedom  mean 
The  wreckage  of  the  Union  that  I  serve 
I  would  not  free  a  slave. 

O  Will  of  God, 

I  am  a  patient  man,  and  I  can  wait 
Like  an  old  gunflint  buried  in  the  ground 
While  the  slow  years  pile  up  like  moldering  leaves 
Above  me,  underneath  the  rake  of  Time, 
And  turn,  in  time,  to  the  dark,  fruitful  mold 
That  smells  of  Sangamon  apples,  till  at  last 
There's  no  sleep  left  there,  and  the  steel  event 
Descends  to  strike  the  live  coal  out  of  me 
And  light  the  powder  that  was  always  there. 

That  is  my  only  virtue  as  I  see  it, 

Ability  to  wait  and  hold  my  own 

And  keep  my  own  resolves  once  they  are  made 

In  spite  of  what  the  smarter  people  say. 

I  can't  be  smart  the  way  that  they  are  smart. 

I've  known  that  since  I  was  an  ugly  child. 

It  teaches  you— to  be  an  ugly  child. 


It  teaches  you— to  lose  a  thing  you  love. 
It  sticks  your  roots  down  into  Sangamon  ground 
And  makes  you  grow  when  you  don't  want  to  grow 
And  makes  you  tough  enough  to  wait  life  out, 
Wait  like  the  fields,  under  the  rain  and  snow. 

I  have  not  thought  for  years  of  that  lost  grave 
That  was  my  first  hard  lesson  in  the  queer 
Thing  between  men  and  women  we  call  love. 
But  when  I  think  of  it,  and  when  I  hear 
The  rain  and  snow  fall  on  it,  as  they  must, 
It  fills  me  with  unutterable  grief. 

We've  come  a  good  long  way,  my  hat  and  I, 
Since  then,  a  pretty  lengthy  piece  of  road, 
Uphill  and  down  but  mostly  with  a  pack. 
Years  of  law-business,  years  of  cracking  jokes, 
And  watching  Billy  Herndon  do  his  best 
To  make  me  out,  which  seemed  to  be  a  job; 
Years  tiying  how  to  learn  to  handle  men, 
Which  can  be  done,  if  you've  got  heart  enough, 
And  how  to  deal  with  women  or  a  woman 
And  that's  about  the  hardest  task  I  know. 
For,  when  you  get  a  man,  you've  got  the  man 
Like  a  good  big  axchandlc  in  your  fist, 
But  you  can't  catch  a  woman  like  an  axe. 
She'll  run  like  mercury  between  your  hands 
And  leave  you  wondering  which  road  she  went, 
The  minute  when  you  thought  you  knew  her  ways. 

I  understand  the  uses  of  the  earth, 
And  I  have  burned  my  hands  at  certain  fires 
Often  enough  to  know  a  use  for  fire, 
But  when  the  genius  of  the  water  moves, 
And  that's  the  woman's  genius,  I'm  at  sea 
In  every  sense  and  meaning  of  the  word, 
With  nothing  but  old  patience  for  my  chart, 
And  patience  doesn't  always  please  a  woman. 

Bright  streams  of  water,  watering  the  world,. 
Deep  seas  of  water  that  all  men  must  sail 
Or  rest  half -men  and  fill  the  narrow  graves, 


When  will  I  understand  or  comprehend 

Your  salt,  sweet  taste,  so  different  from  the  taste 

Of  Sangamon  russets,  weighing  down  the  bough? 

You  can  live  with  the  water  twenty  years 

And  never  understand  it  like  the  earth 

But  that's  the  lesson  I  can't  seem  to  learn. 

"Abraham  Lincoln,  his  hand  and  pen, 
He  will  be  good,  but  God  knows  when/' 
He  will  be  wise,  but  God  knows  when. 

It  doesn't  matter.  If  I  had  some  news— 
News  from  that  f  og— 

I'll  get  the  hypo,  sure, 
Unless  I  watch  myself,  waiting  for  news. 
I  can't  afford  to  get  the  hypo  now, 
I've  got  too  much  to  do. 

Political  years, 

Housekeeping  years  of  marrying  and  begetting 
And  losing,  too,  the  children  and  the  town, 
The  wife,  the  house,  the  life,  the  joy  and  grief, 
The  profound  wonder  still  behind  it  all. 

I  had  a  friend  who  married  and  was  happy. 

But  something  haunted  him  that  haunted  me 

Before  he  did,  till  he  could  hardly  tell 

What  his  own  mind  was,  for  the  brooding  veil 

And  immaterial  horror  of  the  soul 

Which  colors  the  whole  world  for  men  like  that. 

I  do  not  know  from  whence  that  horror  comes 
Or  why  it  hangs  between  us  and  the  sun 
For  some  f ew  men,  at  certain  times  and  days, 
But  I  have  known  it  closer  than  my  flesh, 
Got  up  with  it,  hain  down  and  walked  with  it, 
Scotched  it  awhile,  but  never  killed  it  quite, 
And  yet  lived  on. 

I  wrote  him  good  advice, 
The  way  you  do,  and  told  him  this,  for  part, 
"Again  you  fear  that  that  Elysium 
Of  which  youVe  dreamed  so  much  is  not  to  be. 
Well,  I  dare  swear  it  will  not  be  the  fault 


Of  that  same  black-eyed  Fanny,  now  your  wife. 
And  I  have  now  no  doubt  that  you  and  I, 
To  our  particular  misfortune,  dream 
Dreams  of  Elysium  far  exceeding  all 
That  any  earthly  thing  can  realize." 

I  wrote  that  more  than  twenty  years  ago, 
At  thirty-three,  and  now  I'm  fifty-three, 
And  the  slow  days  have  brought  me  up  at  last 
Through  water,  earth  and  fire,  to  where  I  stand, 
To  where  I  stand— and  no  Elysiums  still. 

No,  no  Elysiums— for  that  personal  dream 
I  dreamt  of  for  myself  and  in  my  youth 
Has  been  abolished  by  the  falling  sledge 
Of  chance  and  an  ambition  so  fulfilled 
That  the  fulfillment  killed  its  personal  part. 

My  old  ambition  was  an  iron  ring 
Loose-hooped  around  the  live  trunk  of  a  tree. 
If  the  tree  grows  till  bark  and  iron  touch 
And  then  stops  growing,  ring  and  tree  are  matched 
And  the  fulfillment  fits. 

But,  if  by  some 

Unlikely  chance,  the  growing  still  keeps  on, 
The  tree  must  burst  the  binding-ring  or  die. 

I  have  not  once  controlled  the  circumstances. 
They  have  controlled  me.  But  with  that  control 
They  made  me  grow  or  die.  And  I  have  grown. 
The  iron  ring  is  burst. 

Three  elements, 

Earth,  water  and  fire.  I  have  passed  through  them  all, 
Still  to  find  no  Elysium  for  my  hands, 
Still  to  find  no  Elysium  but  growth, 
And  the  slow  will  to  grow  to  match  my  task. 

Three  elements.  I  have  not  sought  the  fourth 

Deeply,  till  now— the  element  of  air, 

The  everlasting  element  of  God, 

Who  must  be  there  in  spite  of  all  we  See, 

Who  must  be  there  in  spite  of  all  we  bear, 

Who  must  exist  where  all  Elysium0 


Are  less  than  shadows  of  a  hunter's  fire 
Lighted  at  night  to  scare  a  wolf  away. 

I  know  that  wolf— his  scars  are  in  my  hide 

And  no  Llysiurns  can  rub  them  out. 

Therefore  at  last,  I  lift  my  hands  to  You 

Who  Were  and  Are  and  Must  Be,  if  our  world 

Is  anything  but  a  lost  ironclad 

Shipped  with  a  crew  of  fools  and  mutineers 

To  drift  between  the  cold  forts  of  the  stars. 

I've  never  found  a  church  that  I  could  join 

Although  I've  prayed  in  churches  in  my  time 

And  listened  to  all  sorts  of  ministers 

Well,  they  were  good  men,  most  of  them,  and  yet- 

The  thing  behind  the  words— it's  hard  to  find. 

I  used  to  think  it  wasn't  there  at  all 

Couldn't  be  there.  I  cannot  say  that,  now. 

And  now  I  pray  to  You  and  You  alone. 

Teach  me  to  know  Your  will.  Teach  me  to  read 

Your  difficult  purpose  here,  which  must  be  plain 

If  I  had  eyes  to  see  it.  Make  me  just. 

There  was  a  man  I  knew  near  Pigeon  Creek 

Who  kept  a  kennel  full  of  hunting  dogs, 

Young  dogs  and  old,  smart  hounds  and  silly  hounds. 

He'd  sell  the  young  ones  every  now  and  then, 

Smart  as  they  were  and  slick  as  they  could  run. 

But  the  one  dog  he'd  never  sell  or  lend 

Was  an  old  half-deaf  foolish-looking  hound 

You  wouldn't  think  had  sense  to  scratch  a  flea 

Unless  the  flea  were  old  and  sickly  too. 

Most  days  he  used  to  lie  beside  the  stove 

Or  sleeping  in  a  piece  of  sun  outside. 

Folks  used  to  plague  the  man  about  that  dog 

And  he'd  agree  to  everything  they  said, 

"No— he  ain't  much  on  looks— or  much  on  speed— 

A  young  dog  can  outrun  him  any  time, 

Outlook  him  and  outeat  him  and  outleap  him, 

But,  Mister,  that  dog's  hell  on  a  cold  scent 

And,  once  he  gets  his  teeth  in  what  he's  after, 

He  don't  let  go  until  he  knows  he's  dead." 


I  am  that  old,  deaf  hunting-dog,  O  Lord, 

And  the  world's  kennel  holds  ten  thousand  hounds 

Smarter  and  faster  and  with  finer  coats 

To  hunt  your  hidden  purpose  up  the  wind 

And  bell  upon  the  trace  you  leave  behind. 

But,  when  even  they  fail  and  lose  the  scent, 

I  will  keep  on  because  I  must  keep  on 

Until  You  utterly  reveal  Yourself 

And  sink  my  teeth  in  justice  soon  or  late. 

There  is  no  more  to  ask  of  earth  or  fire 

And  water  only  runs  between  my  hands, 

But  in  the  air,  I'll  look,  in  the  blue  air, 

The  old  dog,  muzzle  down  to  the  cold  scent, 

Day  after  day,  until  the  tired  years 

Crackle  beneath  his  feet  like  broken  sticks 

And  the  last  barren  bush  consumes  with  peace. 

I  should  have  tried  the  course  with  younger  legs, 
This  hunting-ground  is  stiff  enough  to  pull 
The  metal  heart  out  of  a  dog  of  steel; 
I  should  have  started  back  at  Pigeon  Creek 
From  scratch,  not  forty  years  behind  the  mark. 
But  you  can't  change  yourself,  and,  if  you  could, 
You  might  fetch  the  wrong  jack-knife  in  the  swap. 
It's  up  to  you  to  whittle  what  you  can 
With  what  you've  got— and  what  I  am,  I  am 
For  what  it's  worth,  hypo  and  legs  and  all. 
I  can't  complain.  I'm  ready  to  admit 
You  could  have  made  a  better-looking  dog 
From  the  same  raw  material,  no  doubt, 
But,  since  You  didn't,  this'll  have  to  do. 

Therefore  I  utterly  lift  up  my  hands 
To  You,  and  here  and  now  beseech  Your  aid. 
I  have  held  back  when  others  tugged  me  on, 
I  have  gone  on  when  others  pulled  me  >back 
Striving  to  read  Your  will,  striving  to  find 
The  justice  and  expedience  of  this  case, 
Hunting  an  arrow  down  the  chilly  airs 
Until  my  eyes  are  blind  with  the  great  wind 
And  my  heart  sick  with  running  after  peace. 
And  now,  I  stand  and  tremble  on  the  last 


Edge  of  the  last  blue  cliff,  a  hound  beat  out, 
Tail  down  and  belly  flattened  to  the  ground, 
My  lungs  are  breathless  and  my  legs  are  whipped, 
Everything  in  me's  whipped  except  my  will. 
I  can't  go  on.  And  yet,  I  must  go  on. 

I  will  say  this.  Two  months  ago  I  read 
My  proclamation  setting  these  men  free 
To  Seward  and  the  rest.  I  told  them  then 
I  was  not  calling  on  them  for  advice 
But  to  hear  something  that  I  meant  to  do. 
We  talked  about  it.  Most  of  them  approved 
The  thing,  if  not  the  time.  Then  Seward  said 
Something  I  hadn't  thought  of,  "I  approve 
The  proclamation—but,  if  issued  now 
With  our  defeats  in  everybody's  mouth 
It  may  be  viewed  as  a  last  shriek  for  help 
From  an  exhausted,  beaten  government. 
Put  it  aside  until  a  victory  comes, 
Then  issue  it  with  victory." 

He  was  right. 

I  put  the  thing  aside— and  ever  since 
There  has  been  nothing  for  us  but  defeat, 
Up  to  this  battle  now— and  still  no  news. 

If  I  had  eyes  to  look  to  Maryland! 
If  I  could  move  that  battle  with  my  hands! 
No,  it  don't  work.  I'm  not  a  general. 
All  I  can  do  is  trust  the  men  who  are. 

I'm  not  a  general,  but  I  promise  this, 

Here  at  the  end  of  every  ounce  of  strength 

That  I  can  muster,  here  in  the  dark  pit 

Of  ignorance  that  is  not  quite  despair 

And  doubt  tHat  does  but  must  not  break  the  mind! 

The  pit  I  have  inhabited  so  long 

At  various  times  and  seasons,  that  my  soul 

Has  taken  color  in  its  very  grains 

From  the  blind  darkness,  from  the  lonely  cave 

That  never  hears  a  footstep  but  my  own 

Nor  evqr  will,  while  I'm  a  man  alive 

To  keep  my  prison  locked  from  visitors. 


What  if  I  heard  another  footstep  there, 
What  if,  some  day—there  is  no  one  but  God, 
No  one  but  God  who  could  descend  that  stair 
And  ring  his  heavy  footfalls  on  the  stone. 
And  if  He  came,  what  would  we  say  to  Him? 

That  prison  is  ourselves  that  we  have  built, 
And,  being  so,  its  loneliness  is  just, 
And,  being  so,  its  loneliness  endures. 
But,  if  another  came, 

What  would  we  say? 
What  can  the  blind  say,  given  back  their  eyes? 

No,  it  must  be  as  it  has  always  been. 
We  are  all  prisoners  in  that  degree 
And  will  remain  so,  but  1  think  I  know 
This—God  is  not  a  jailor  .... 

And  I  make 

A  promise  now  to  You  and  to  myself. 
If  this  last  battle  is  a  victory 
And  they  can  drive  the  Rebel  army  back 
From  Maryland,  back  over  the  Potomac, 
My  proclamation  shall  go  out  at  last 
To  set  those  other  prisoners  and  slaves 
From  this  next  year,  then  and  forever  free. 

So  much  for  my  will.  Show  me  what  is  Yours! 

That  must  be  news,  those  footsteps  in  the  hall, 
Good  news,  or  else  they  wouldn't  come  so  fast. 

What  is  it,  now?  Yes,  yes,  I'm  glad  of  that. 
I'm  very  glad.  There's  no  mistake  this  time? 
We  have  the  best  of  them?  They're  in  retreat? 

This  is  a  great  day,  Stanton 

If  McClellan 

Can  only  follow  up  the  victory  now! 

Lord,  I  will  keep  my  promise  and  go  on, 
Your  will,  in  much,  still  being  dark  to  me, 
But,  in  this  one  thing,  as  I  see  it,  plain. 


And  yet—if  Lee  slips  from  our  hands  again 
As  he  well  may  from  all  those  last  reports 
And  the  war  still  goes  on— and  still  no  end- 
Even  after  this  Antietam— not  for  years— 

I  cannot  read  it  but  I  will  go  on, 

Old  dog,  old  dog,  but  settled  to  the  scent 

And  with  fresh  breath  now  from  this  breathing  space, 

Almighty  God. 

At  best  we  never  seem 

To  know  You  wholly,  but  there's  something  left, 
A  strange,  last  courage. 

We  can  fail  and  fail, 

But,  deep  against  the  failure,  something  wars, 
Something  goes  forward,  something  lights  a  match, 
Something  gets  up  from  Sangamon  County  ground 
Armed  with  a  bitten  and  a  blunted  axe 
And  after  twenty  thousand  wasted  strokes 
Brings  the  tall  hemlock  crashing  to  the  ground. 

Spade  saw  the  yellow  river  rolling  ahead 

His  sore,  cracked  lips  curled  back  in  a  death's  head  grin 

And  his  empty  belly  ceased  to  stick  to  his  sides. 

He  sat  on  the  bank  a  minute  to  rest  his  legs 

And  catch  his  breath.  He  had  lived  for  the  last  three  days 

On  a  yam,  two  ears  of  horse-corn  and  the  lame  rabbit 

That  couldn't  run  away  when  he  threw  the  stick. 

He  was  still  a  big  man  but  the  ribs  stuck  into  his  skin 
And  the  hard,  dry  muscles  were  wasted  to  leather  thongs. 
uBoy,  I  wisht  we  had  a  good  meal,"  he  thought  with  a  dull 
Fatigue.  "Dat's  Freedom's  Ian'  ovah  dere  fer  sho', 
But  how  we  gwino.  to  swim  it  without  a  good  meal? 
I  wisht  we  had  even  a  spoonful  of  good  hot  pot-licker 
Or  a  smidgin'  of  barbecued  shote. 

Dat  river's  cold. 
Colder'n  Jordan.  I  wisht  we  had  a  good  meal." 

He  went  down  to  the  river  and  tested  it  with  his  hand. 
TheX(5bld  jumped  up  his  arm  and  into  his  heart, 
Sharp  as  the  toothache.  His  mouth  wried  up  in  a  queer 


Grimace.  He  felt  like  crying.  "Fse  tired,"  he  said. 
"Flow  easy,  river,"  he  said. 

Then  he  tumbled  in. 

The  hard  shock  of  the  plunge  took  his  breath  away. 
So  stinging  at  first  that  his  arms  and  legs  moved  fast, 
But  then  the  cold  crept  into  his  creaking  bones 
And  he  rolled  wild  eyes. 

"Oh,  God,"  he  thought  as  he  struggled, 
"Fse  weak  as  a  cat.  I  ust  to  be  a  strong  man." 

The  yellow  flood  sucked  round  him,  pulling  him  down, 

The  yellow  foam  had  a  taste  like  death  in  his  mouth, 

"We  6ught  to  of  had  a  good  meal,"  he  thought  with  a  weak 

Wonder,  as  he  fought  weakly.  "A  good  hot  meal. 

Dis  current,  she's  too  strong  for  a  hungry  mouth. 

We'se  done  our  best,  but  she  fights  like  a  angel  would 

Like  wrestlin*  with  a  death-angel." 

He  choked  and  sank 

To  come  up  gasping  and  staring  with  bloodshot  eyes. 
His  brain  had  a  last,  clear  flash.  "You're  drowned,"  said  the  brain. 
Then  it  stopped  working. 

But  the  black,  thrashing  hands 
Caught  hold  of  something  solid  and  hard  and  rough 
And  hung  to  it  with  a  last  exhausted  grip. 
—He  had  been  fighting  an  angel  for  seven  nights 
And  now  he  hung  by  his  hands  to  the  angel's  neck, 
Lost  in  an  iron  darkness  of  beating  wings. 
If  he  once  let  go,  the  angel  would  push  him  off 
And  touch  him  across  the  loins  with  a  stony  hand 
In  the  last  death-trick  of  the  wrestle. 

He  moaned  a  little. 

The  blackness  began  to  lighten.  He  saw  the  river 
Rolling  and  rolling.  He  was  clutched  to  a  log 
Like  a  treetoad  set  afloat  on  a  chip  of  wood, 
And  the  log  and  he  were  rushing  downstream  together, 
But  the  current  pulled  them  both  toward  the  freedom  side. 

He  hunched  up  a  little  higher.  An  eddy  took 
The  log  and  him  and  spun  them  both  like  a  top 
While  he  prayed  and  sickened. 

Then  they  were  out  of  the  eddy 
And  drifting  along  more  slowly,  straight  for  the  shore. 


He  hauled  himself  up  the  bank  with  enormous  care, 
Yromited  and  lay  down. 

When  he  could  arise 

He  looked  at  his  hands.  They  were  still  hooked  into  a  curve. 
It  took  quite  a  time  to  straighten  them  back  again. 

He  said  a  prayer  as  he  tried  to  dry  his  clothes, 
Then  he  looked  for  a  stone  and  threw  it  into  the  river. 
"You'se  a  mean  and  hungry  river,"  he  said.  "You  is. 
Heah's  a  present  for  you.  I  hope  it  busts  up  your  teef. 
Heah's  a  present  fum  Mistah  Spade." 

He  felt  better  then, 

But- his  belly  started  to  ache.  "Act  patient,"  he  said, 
Rubbing  it  gently,  "We'se  loose  in  Freedom's  land, 
Crossed  old  Jordan— bound  to  get  vittles  now." 

He  started  out  for  the  town.  The  town  wasn't  far 
But  he  had  to  go  slow.  Sometimes  he  fell  on  the  way. 
The  last  time  he  fell  was  in  front  of  a  little  yard 
With  a  white,  well-painted  fence.  A  woman  came  out. 
"Get  along,"  she  said.  "You  can't  get  sick  around  here. 
I'm  tired  of  you  nigger  tramps.  You're  all  of  you  thieves." 
Spade  rose  and  said  something  vague  about  swimming  rivers 
And  vittles.  She  stamped  her  foot.  "Get  along!"  she  said, 
"Get  along  or  I'll  call  the  dog  and — " 

Spade  got  along. 

The  next  house,  the  dog  was  barking  out  in  the  yard, 
He  went  by  as  fast  as  he  could,  but  when  he  looked  back 
A  man  had  come  out  with  a  hostile  stick  in  his  hand. 
Spade  shook  his  head.  "Freedom's  land,"  he  thought  to  himself, 
"They's  some  mighty  quick-actin'  people  in  Freedom's  land, 
Some  mighty  rash-tempered  dogs." 

He  swayed  as  he  walked. 
Here  was  another  house.  He  looked  for  the  dog 
With  fright  in  his  eyes.  Then  a  swimming  qualm  came  over  him, 
A  deathly  faintness.  His  hands  went  out  to  the  fence. 
He  gripped  two  palings,  hung,  and  stared  at  his  shoes. 
Somebody  wa4  talking  to  him.  He  tried  to  move  on 
But  his  legs  wouldn't  walk.  The  voice  was  a  woman's  voice. 

She'd  be  calling  the  dog  in  a  minute.  He  shivered  hard. 
"Excuse  me  ma'am,  but  I'se  feelin'  poorly,"  he  said, 


"I  just  crossed  over— I'll  go  as  soon  as  I  kin." 

A  man's  voice  now.  They  were  taking  him  under  the  arms. 

He  didn't  care  what  they  did.  He  let  himself  walk. 

Then  he  was  sitting  up  in  a  bentwood  chair 
In  a  tidy  kitchen  that  smelt  of  frying  and  ham; 
The  thick,  good  smell  made  him  strangely  sick  at  first 
But  it  soon  passed  off.  They  fed  him  little  by  little 
Till  at  last  he  could  tell  his  tale  and  ask  about  them. 

They  were  churchgoing  people  and  kind  to  runaway  slaves. 
She  wore  a  blue  dress.  They  had  two  sons  in  the  war. 
That  was  all  that  he  knew  and  all  that  he  ever  knew. 
But  they  let  him  sleep  in  the  garret  and  gave  him  some  shoes 
And  fifty  cents  when  he  left. 

He  wanted  to  stay 

But  times  were  bad  and  they  couldn't  afford  to  keep  him. 
The  town  was  tired  of  runaway  negroes  now. 

All  the  same,  when  he  left,  he  walked  with  a  different  step. 
He  went  down  town.  He  was  free.  He  was  Mister  Spade. 
The  President  had  written  a  letter  about  it 
And  the  mule  and  the  coal-black  gal  might  come  any  day. 

He  hummed  a  tuneless  whistle  between  his  teeth 
And  fished  a  piece  of  paper  out  of  his  pants, 
They'd  written  him  down  a  boss's  name  and  address 
But  he'd  have  to  get  somebody  to  read  it  again. 
He  approached  a  group  of  three  white  men  on  a  corner 
Holding  the  paper. 

"  'Scuse  me,  boss,  can  you  tell  me — " 
The  white  men  looked  at  him  with  hard,  vacant  eyes. 
At  last  one  of  them  took  the  paper.  "Oh,  Hell,"  he  said, 
Spitting,  and  gave  Spade  a  stare.  Then  he  seemed  to  think 
Of  something  funny.  He  nudged  the  other  two  men. 
"Listen,  nigger,"  he  said.  "You  want  Mr.  Braid. 
You'll  find  him  two  blocks  down  at  the  Marshal's  office, 
Tell  him  Mr.  Clarke  sent  you  there— Mr.  William  Clarke— 
He'll  fix  you  up  all  right." 

The  other  men  grinned, 

Adding  directions.  Spade  thanked  them  and  went  away. 
He  heard  them  laugh  as  he  went. 


Another  man  took  him 

To  a  red-faced  person  who  sat  in  a  tilted  chair, 
Reading  a  paper,  his  feet  cocked  up  on  his  desk. 
He  looked  at  Spade  and  his  feet  came  down  with  a  slam. 
"Take  that  God  damn  smile  off,"  he  said.  "Who  let  you  come  in? 
You  contraband  niggers  think  that  you  own  this  town 
And  that  all  you've  got  to  do  is  cross  over  here 
For  people  to  feed  you  free  the  rest  of  your  lives. 
Well  it  don't  go  down  with  me— just  understand  that." 

Spade  brought  out  his  paper,  dumbly.  The  man  looked  at  it. 
"Hell,  this  ain't  for  me,"  he  said. 

Spade  started  to  go. 

"Come  back  here,  nigger,"  ordered  t^ie  red-faced  man. 
"Hey,  Mike!"  he  yelled,  "Here's  another  of  Lincoln's  pets. 
Send  him  out  with  the  rest  of  the  gang." 

"But,  boss — "  said  Spade. 

"Don't  get  lippy  with  me,"  said  the  man,  "Mike,  take  him  along." 
The  pimply  boy  named  Mike  jerked  a  sallow  thumb. 
"Come  on,  black  beauty,"  he  said.  "We  got  you  a  job." 
Spade  followed  him,  dazed. 

When  they  were  out  in  the  street 

The  boy  turned  to  him.  "Now,  nigger,  watch  out,"  he  said, 
Patting  a  heavy  pistol  swung  at  his  belt, 
With  puppy-nerceness,  "You  don't  get  away  from  me. 
I'm  a  special  deputy,  see?" 

"All  right,  boss,"  said  Spade. 
"I  ain't  aimin'  to  get  away  from  nobody  now, 
I  just  aims  to  work  till  I  gets  myself  a  good  mule." 
The  boy  laughed  briefly.  The  conversation  dropped. 
They  walked  out  of  the  town  till  they  came  to  a  torn-up  road 
Where  a  gang  of  negroes  was  working. 

"Say,  boss—"  said  Spade. 

The  boy  cut  him  off.  "Hey,  Jerry,"  he  called  to  the  foreman, 
"Here's  another  one." 

The  foreman  looked  up  and  spat. 
"Judas!"  he  said,  "Can't  they  keep  the  bastards  at  home? 
I'd  put  a  gun  on  that  river  if  I  was  Braid. 
Well,  come  along,  nig,  get  a  move  on  and  find  a  shovel. 
Don't  stand  lookin'  at  me  all  day." 

The  boy  went  away. 


Spade  found  a  shovel  and  started  work  on  the  road. 
The  foreman  watched  him  awhile  with  sarcastic  eyes, 
Spade  saw  that  he,  too,  wore  a  pistol. 

"Christ,"  said  the  foreman, 

Disgustedly,  "Try  and  put  some  guts  in  it  there. 
You're  big  enough.  That  shovel'll  cost  five  dollars. 
Remember  that— it  comes  out  of  your  first  week's  pay. 
You're  a  free  nigger  now." 

He  chuckled.  Spade  didn't  answer 
And,  after  a  while,  the  foreman  moved  away. 

Spade  turned  to  the  gingerskinned  negro  who  worked  beside  him. 
"You  fum  de  Souf?"  he  mouthed  at  him. 

Ginger  nodded. 

"I  been  here  a  month  now.  They  fotched  me  here  the  first  day. 
Got  any  money?" 

"Nuthin'  but  fifty  cents." 

"You  better  give  it  to  him,"  said  Ginger,  stealing 
A  glance  at  the  foreman.  "He'll  treat  you  bad  if  you  don't. 
He's  a  cranky  man." 

Spade's  heart  sank  into  his  boots. 

"Don't  we  uns  get  paid?  We  ain't  none  of  us  slaves  no  more, 
The  President  said  so.  Why  we  wuhkin'  like  dis?" 
Ginger  snickered.  "Sho'  we  uns  get  paid,"  he  said, 
"But  we  got  to  buy  our  stuff  at  de  company  sto' 
And  he  sells  his  old  shovels  a  dozen  times  what  dey's  wuth. 
I  only  been  here  a  month  but  I  owes  twelve  dollars. 
Dey  ain't  no  way  to  pay  it  except  by  wuhk, 
And  de  more  you  wuhk  de  more  you  owe  at  the  sto.' 
I  kain't  figure  it  out  exactly  but  it's  dat  way." 
Spade  worked  for  a  while,  revolving  these  things  in  his  mind. 
"I  reckoned  I  sho'  was  gwine  to  be  sassy  and  free 
When  I  swum  dat  river,"  he  said. 

Ginger  grinned  like  a  monkey, 

"Swing  your  shubbel,  boy,  and  forget  what  you  ain't. 
You  mought  be  out  on  de  chain-gang,  bustin'  up  rocks, 
Or  agin,  you  mought  be  enlisted." 

"Huh?"  said  Spade. 

"Sho',  dey's  gwine  to  enlist  us  all  when  we  finish  dis  road. 
All  excep'  me.  I  got  bad  sight  in  my  eyes 
And  dey  knows  about  it." 


"Dey  kain't  enlist  me,"  said  Spade. 
"I  ain't  honin'  to  go  an'  fight  in  no  white-folks  war, 
I  ain't  bust  loose  into  Freedom's  land  fer  dat, 
All  I  want  is  a  chance  to  git  me  a  gal  and  a  mule. 
If  Fse  free,  how  kin  dey  enlist  me,  lessen  I  want?'' 

"You  watch  'em,"  said  Ginger.  They  worked  on  for  a  time. 
The  foreman  stood  on  the  bank  and  watched  them  work, 
Now  and  then  he  drank  from  a  bottle. 

Spade  felt  hungry. 

Autumn  is  filling  his  harvest-bins 

With  red  and  yellow  grain, 
Fire  begins  and  frost  begins 

And  the  floors  are  cold  again. 

Summer  went  when  the  crop  was  sold, 

Summer  is  piled  away, 
Dry  as  a  faded  marigold 

In  the  dry,  long-gathered  hay. 

It  is  time  to  walk  to  the  cider-mill 

Through  air  like  apple  wine 
And  watch  the  moon  rise  over  the  hill, 

Stinging  and  hard  and  fine. 

It  is  time  to  cover  your  seed-pods  deep 
And  let  them  wait  and  be  warm, 

It  is  time  to  sleep  the  heavy  sleep 
That  does  not  wake  for  the  storm. 

Winter  walks  from  the  green,  streaked  West 
With  a  bag  of  Northern  Spies, 

The  skins  are  red  as  a  robin's  breast, 
The  honey  chill  as  the  skies. 

Melora  Vilas  walked  in  the  woods  that  autumn 
And  heard  the  dry  leaves  crackle  under  her  feet, 
Feeling,  below  the  leaves,  the  blunt  heavy  earth. 


"It's  getting-in  time,"  she  thought.  "It's  getting-in  time, 
Time  to  put  things  in  barns  and  sit  by  the  stove, 
Time  to  watch  the  long  snow  and  remember  your  lover. 

He  isn't  dead.  I  know  that  he  isn't  dead. 
Maybe  they've  changed  his  body  into  a  tree, 
Maybe  they've  changed  his  body  into  a  cloud 
Or  something  that  sleeps  through  the  Winter. 

But  I'll  remember. 

I'll  sleep  through  the  Winter,  too.  We  all  sleep  then 
And  when  the  Spring  freshet  drums  in  the  narrow  brooks 
And  fills  them  with  a  fresh  water,  they'll  let  him  come 
Out  of  the  cloud  and  the  tree  and  the  Winter-sleep. 

The  Winter  falls  and  we  lie  like  beleaguered  stones 
In  the  black,  cramped  ground. 

And  then  you  wake  in  the  morning 

And  the  air's  got  soft  and  you  plant  the  narrow-edged  seeds, 
They  grow  all  Summer  and  now  we've  put  them  in  barns 
To  sleep  again  for  a  while. 

I  am  the  seed  and  the  husk.  I  have  sown  and  reaped. 
My  heart  is  a  barn  full  of  grain  that  my  work  has  harvested. 
My  body  holds  the  ripe  grain.  I  can  wait  my  time." 

She  walked  on  farther  and  came  to  the  lip  of  the  spring, 
The  brown  leaves  drifted  the  water.  She  wratchcd  them  drift. 

"I  am  satisfied,"  she  thought,  "I  am  satisfied. 

I  can  wait  my  time  in  spite  of 'Mom  being  sad 

And  Pop  looking  fierce  and  sad  when  he  sees  me  walk 

So  heavy  and  knows  I'll  have  to  walk  heavier  still 

Before  my  time  comes.  I'm  sorry  to  make  them  sad, 

Fm  sorry  I  did  a  bad  thing  if  it  was  a  bad  thing; 

But  I'm  satisfied. 

We  cut  the  heart  on  the  tree. 
I've  got  my  half  of  the  dime  and  he's  got  his, 
He'll  come  back  when  Winter's  over  or  else  I'll  find  him, 
When  you  can  push  up  the  windows,  when  the  new  colts 
Come  out  in  the  Spring,  when  the  snake  sheds  his  winter  coat, 
When  the  old,  shed  coat  of  Winter  lies  on  the  ground 
Grey  as  wasp-paper  under  the  green,  slow  rain, 
When  the  big  barn  door  rolls  open.  • 


I  was  worried  to  death  at  first  and  I  couldn't  tell. 
But  as  soon  as  I  knew  what  it  was— it  was  different  then- 
It  made  things  all  right. 

I  can't  tell  why  it  did  that." 

She  awkwardly  stooped  and  put  her  hand  on  the  ground, 

Under  the  brittle  leaves  the  soil  was  alive, 

Torn  with  its  harvest,  turned  on  its  side  toward  sleep, 

But  stripped  for  battle,  too,  for  the  unending 

Battle  with  Winters  till  the  Spring  is  born 

Like  a  tight  green  leaf  uncurling,  so  slightly,  so  gently, 

Out  of  the  husk  of  ice  and  the  blank,  white  snows. 

The  wind  moved  over  it,  blowing  the  leaves  away, 
Leaving  the  bare,  indomitable  breast. 
She  felt  a  wind  move  over  her  heavy  body, 
Stripping  it  clean  for  war. 

She  felt  the  blind-featured 

Mystery  move,  the  harmonics  of  the  quick  grain, 
The  battle  and  the  awakening  for  battle, 
And  the  salt  taste  of  peace. 

A  flight  of  geese  passed  by  in  a  narrow  V, 
Honking  their  cry. 

That  cry  was  stuck  in  her  heart 
Like  a  bright  knife. 

She  could  have  laughed  or  wept 
Because  of  that  cry  flung  down  from  a  moving  wing, 
But  she  stood  silent. 

She  had  touched  the  life  in  the  ground. 

Love  capie  by  from  the  riversmoke, 
When  the  leaves  were  fresh  on  the  tree, 

But  I  cut  my  heart  on  the  blackjack  oak 
Before  they  fell  on  me. 

The  leaves  are  green  in  the  early  Spring, 
They  are  brown  as  linsey  now, 

I  did  not  ask  for  a  wedding-ring 
From  the  wind  in  the  bending  bough. 


Fall  lightly,  lightly,  leaves  of  the  wild, 

Fail  lightly  on  my  care, 
I  am  not  the  first  to  go  with  child 

Because  of  the  blowing  air, 

I  am  not  the  first  nor  yet  the  last 

To  watch  a  goosefeather  sky, 
And  wonder  what  will  come  of  the  blast 

And  the  name  to  call  it  by. 

Snow  down,  snow  down,  you  whitefeather  bird, 

Snow  down,  you  winter  storm, 
WTiere  the  good  girls  sleep  with  a  gospel  word 

To  keep  their  honor  warm. 

The  good  girls  sleep  in  their  modesty, 

The  bad  girls  sleep  in  their  shame, 
But  I  must  sleep  in  the  hollow  tree 

Till  my  child  can  have  a  name. 

I  will  not  ask  for  the  wheel  and  thread 

To  spin  the  labor  plain, 
Or  the  scissors  hidden  under  the  bed 

To  cut  the  bearing-pain. 

I  will  not  ask  for  the  prayer  in  church 
Or  the  preacher  saying  the  prayer, 

But  I  will  ask  the  shivering  birch 
To  hold  its  arms  in  the  air. 

Cold  and  cold  and  cold  again, 

Cold  in  the  blackjack  limb 
The  winds  of  the  sky  for  his  sponsor-men 

And  a  bird  to  christen  him. 

Now  listen  to  me,  you  Tennessee  corn, 

And  listen  to  my  word, 
This  is  the  first  child  ever  born 

That  was  christened  by  a  bird. 

He's  going  to  act  like  a  hound  let  loose 
When  he  comes  from  the  blackjack  tree, 


And  he's  going  to  walk  in  proud  shoes 
All  over  Tennessee. 

I'll  feed  him  milk  out  of  my  own  breast 
And  call  him  Whistling  Jack. 

And  his  dad'll  bring  him  a  partridge  nest, 
As  soon  as  his  dad  comes  back. 

John  Brown's  raid  has  gone  forward,  the  definite  thing  is  done, 

Not  as  we  see  it  done  when  we  read  the  books, 

A  clear  light  burning  suddenly  in  the  sky, 

But  dimly,  obscurely,  a  flame  half -strangled  by  smoke, 

A  thing  come  to  pass  from  a  victory  not  a  victory, 

A  dubious  doctrine  dubiously  received. 

The  papers  praise,  but  the  recruiting  is  slow, 

The  bonds  sell  badly,  the  grind  of  the  war  goes  on— 

There  is  no  sudden  casting  off  of  a  chain, 

Only  a  slow  thought  working  its  way  through  the  ground, 

A  slow  root  growing,  touching  a  hundred  soils, 

A  thousand  minds—no  blossom  or  flower  yet 

It  takes  a  long  time  to  bring  a  thought  into  act 
And  when  it  blossoms  at  last,  the  gardeners  wonder- 
There  have  been  so  many  to  labor  this  patch  of  ground, 
Garrison,  Beecher,  a  dozen  New  England  names, 
Courageous,  insulting  Sumner,  narrow  and  strong, 
With  his  tongue  of  silver  and  venom  and  his  wrecked  body, 
Wendell  Phillips,  Antinous  of  Harvard— 
But  now  that  the  thought  has  arisen,  they  are  not  sure 
It  was  their  thought  after  all-it  is  good  enough- 
The  best  one  could  expect  from  a  man  like  Lincoln, 
But  this  and  that  are  wrong,  are  unshrewdly  planned, 
We  could  have  ordered  it  better,  we  knew  the  ground, 
It  should  have  been  done  before,  in  a  different  way, 
And  our  praise  is  grudging. 

Pity  the  gardeners, 
Pity  Boston,  pity  thepure  in  heart, 
Pity  the  men  whom  Time  goes  past  in  the  night, 
Without  their  knowledge.  They  worked  through  the  heat  of  the 


Let  us  even  pity 

Wendell  Phillips,  Antinous  of  Harvard, 

For  he  was  a  model  man  and  such  men  deserve 

A  definite  pity  at  times. 

He  too  did  his  best. 

Secure  in  his  own  impenetrable  self-knowledge, 
He  seldom  agreed  with  Lincoln  or  thought  him  wise; 
He  sometimes  thought  that  a  stunning  defeat  would  give 
A  needed  lesson  to  the  soul  of  the  nation, 
And,  before,  would  have  broken  the  Union  as  blithely  as  Yancey 
For  his  own  side  of  abolition,  speaking  about  it 
In  many  public  meetings  where  he  was  heckled 
But  usually  silenced  the  hecklers  sooner  or  later 
With  his  mellifluous,  masculine,  well-trained  accents. 
War  could  hardly  come  too  soon  for  a  man  like  that 
And  when  it  came,  he  was  busy.  He  did  his  part, 
Being  strong  and  active,  blessed  with  a  ready  mind, 
And  the  cause  being  one  to  which  he  professed  devotion, 
He  spoke.  He  spoke  well,  with  conviction,  and  frequently. 

So  much  for  the  banner-bearers  of  abolition, 

The  men  who  carried  the  lonely  flag  for  years 

And  could  bear  defeat  with  the  strength  of  the  pure  in  heart 

But  could  not  understand  the  face  of  success. 

The  other  dissenters  are  simpler  to  understand. 
They  are  ready  to  fight  for  the  Union  but  not  for  niggers, 
They  don't  give  a  damn  for  niggers  and  say  so  now 
With  a  grievous  cry. 

And  yet  the  slow  root-thought  works 
Gradually  through  men's  minds. 

The  Lancashire  spinners, 

Thrown  out  of  work  because  no  cotton  can  come 
To  feed  their  mills  through  the  choking  Union  blockade, 
Yet  hold  starvation  meetings  and  praise  the  Union. 
The  tide  has  begun  to  turn  in  some  English  minds, 
The  watchers  overseas  feel  their  hands  grow  numb, 
Slidell  and  Mason  and  Huse  still  burrow  and  argue, 
But  a  cold  breath  blows  through  the  rooms  with  the  chandeliers. 
A  door  is  beginning  to  close. 

Few  men  perceive 
The  turn  of  the  tide,  the  closing  of  the  door. 


Lincoln  does  not  perceive  it.  He  sees  alone 

The  grind  of  the  war,  the  lagging  of  the  recruits, 

Election  after  election  going  against  him, 

And  Lee  back  safe  in  Virginia  after  Antietam 

While  McClellan  sticks  for  five  weeks  and  will  not  move. 

He  loses  patience  at  last  and  removes  McClellan. 

Burnside  succeeds  him— 

and  the  grimly  bewildered 
Army  of  the  Potomac  has  a  new  rider, 
Affable,  portly,  whiskered  and  self-distrusting, 
Who  did  not  wish  the  command  and  tried  to  decline  it, 
Took  it  at  last  and  almost  wept  when  he  did. 
A  worried  man  who  passes  like  a  sad  ghost 
Across  November,  looking  for  confidence, 
And  beats  his  army  at  last  against  stone  walls 
At  Fredericksburg  in  the  expected  defeat 
With  frightful  slaughter. 

The  news  of  the  thing  comes  back. 
There  are  tears  in  his  eyes.  He  never  wanted  command. 
"Those  men  over  there,"  he  groans,  "Those  men  over  there" 
—They  are  piled  like  cordwood  in  front  of  the  stone  wall- 
He  wants  to  lead  a  last  desperate  charge  himself, 
But  he  is  restrained. 

The  sullen  army  draws  back, 

Licking  its  wounds.  The  night  falls.  The  newspapers  rave. 
There  are  sixty-three  hundred  dead  in  that  doomed  attack 
That  never  should  have  been  made. 

His  shoulders  are  bowed. 

He  tries  a  vain  march  in  the  mud  and  resigns  at  last 
The  weapon  he  could  not  wield. 

Joe  Hooker  succeeds  him. 
The  winter  clamps  down,  cold  winter  of  doubt  and  grief. 

The  sun  shines,  the  wind  goes  by, 
The  prisoners  and  captives  lie 
In  a  cell  without  an  eye. 

Winter  wilj  not  touch  them  more 
Than  the  cold  upon  a  sore 
That  was  frozen  long  before. 


Summer  will  not  make  them  sweet 
Nor  the  rainy  Springs  refresh 
That  extremity  of  heat 
In  the  self -corrupting  flesh. 

The  band  blares,  the  bugles  snort, 
They  lose  the  fort  or  take  the  fort, 
Someone  writes  a  wise  report. 

Someone's  name  is  Victory. 
The  prisoners  and  captives  lie 
Too  long  dead  before  they  die. 

For  all  prisoners  and  captives  now, 
For  the  dark  legion, 

The  Andersonvillers,  the  Castle  Thunder  men, 
The  men  who  froze  at  Camp  Morton  and  cam"  *-~m  the  dun- 

With  blood  burst  out  on  their  faces. 
The  men  who  died  at  Salisbury  and  Belle  Isle, 
Elmira,  St.  Louis,  Camp  Douglas— the  Libby  tunnellers— 
The  men  in  the  fetid  air. 

There  are  charges  back  and  forth  upon  either  side, 
Some  true,  some  false. 

You  can  read  the  official  reports, 

The  dozen  thick  black-bound  volumes  of  oaths  and  statements, 
A  desert  of  type,  a  dozen  black  mummy-cases 
Embalming  the  long-forgotten,  building  again 
The  cumbrous  machine  of  guards  and  reports  and  orders, 
"Respectfully  submitted"  ...  "I  beg  to  state"  .  .  . 
"State  of  kitchen—good."  .  .  .  "Food,  quality  of— quite  good."  .  . . 
"Police  of  hospital— good  except  Ward  7"  .  .  . 
"Remarks— we  have  ninety-five  cases  of  smallpox  now."  .  .  . 
"Remarks— as  to  general  health  of  prisoners,  fair."  .  .  . 
"Remarks"  .  .  .  "Remarks"  .  .  .  "Respectfully  submitted"  .  .  . 
Under  this  type  are  men  who  used  to  have  hands 
But  the  creaking  wheels  have  respectfully  submitted  them 
Into  a  void,  embalmed  them  in  mummy-cases, 
With  their  chills  and  fever,  their  looks  and  plans  of  escape. 


They  called  one  "Shorty,"  they  called  another  "The  Judge," 
One  man  wore  the  Virgin's  medal  .around  his  neck, 
One  had  a  broken  nose  and  one  was  a  liar, 
"Respectfully  submitted—" 

But,  now  and  then, 

A  man  or  a  scene  escapes  from  the  mummy-cases, 
Like  smoke  escaping,  blue  smoke  coiling  into  pictures, 
Stare  at  those  coils— 

and  see  in  the  hardened  smoke, 
The  triple  stockade  of  Andersonville  the  damned, 
Where  men  corrupted  like  flies  in  their  own  dung 
And  the  gangrened  sick  were  black  with  smoke  and  their  filth. 
There  were  thirty  thousand  Federal  soldiers  there 
Before  the  end  of  the  war. 

A  man  called  Wirtz, 

A  Swiss,  half  brute,  half  fool,  and  wholly  a  clod, 
Commanded  that  camp  of  spectres. 

One  reads  what  he  did 

And  longs  to  hang  him  higher  than  Haman  hung, 
And  then  one  reads  what  he  said  when  he  was  tried 
After  the  war— and  sees  the  long,  heavy  face, 
The  dull  fly  buzzing  stupidly  in  the  trap, 
The  ignorant  lead  of  the  voice,  saying  and  saying, 
"Why,  I  did  what  I  could,  I  was  ordered  to  keep  the  jail. 
Yes,  I  set  up  deadlines,  sometimes  chased  men  with  dogs, 
Put  men  in  torturing  stocks,  killed  this  one  and  that, 
Let  the  camp  corrupt  till  it  tainted  the  very  guards 
Who  came  there  with  mortal  sickness. 
But  they  were  prisoners,  they  were  dangerous  men, 
If  a  hundred  died  a  day— how  was  it  my  fault? 
I  did  my  duty.  I  always  reported  the  deaths. 
I  don't  see  what  I  did  different  from  other  people. 
I  fought  well  at  Seven  Pines  and  was  badly  wounded. 
I  have  witnesses  here  to  tell  you  I'm  a  good  man 
And  that  I  was  really  kind:  I  don't  understand. 
I'm  old.  I'm  sick.  You're  going  to  hang  me.  Why?" 

Crush  out  the  fly  with  your  thumb  and  wipe  your  hand, 
You  cannot  crush  the  leaden,  creaking  machine, 
The  first  endorsement,  the  paper  on  the  desk 
Referred  by  Adjutant  Feeble  to  Captain  Dull 
For  further  information  and  his  report. 


Some  men  wish  evil  and  accomplish  it 

But  most  men,  when  they  work  in  that  machine, 

Just  let  it  happen  somewhere  in  the  wheels. 

The  fault  is  no  decisive,  villainous  knife 

But  the  dull  saw  that  is  the  routine  mind. 

Why,  if  a  man  lay  dying  on  their  desk 
They'd  do  their  best  to  help  him,  friend  or  foe, 
But  this  is  merely  a  respectfully 
Submitted  paper,  properly  endorsed 
To  be  sent  on  and  on,  and  gather  blood. 

Stare  at  the  smoke  again  for  a  moment's  space 
And  see  another  live  man  in  another  prison. 

A  colored  trooper  named  Woodson  was  on  guard 
In  the  prison  at  Newport  News,  one  night  around  nine. 
There  was  a  gallery  there,  where  the  privy  was, 
But  prisoners  weren't  allowed  in  it  after  dark. 

The  colored  soldier  talked  with  the  prisoners 
At  first,  in  a  casual,  more  or  less  friendly  way; 
They  tried  to  sell  him  breastpins  and  rings  they  had 
And  bothered  him  by  wanting  to  go  to  the  privy. 

At  last,  he  fired  on  a  man 

Who  went  in  the  gallery,  but  happened  to  miss  him. 
A  lieutenant  came  down  to  ask  the  cause  of  the  shot. 
Woodson  told  him. 

A  second  prisoner  went 

On  the  same  errand,  a  shadow  slipping  through  shadows. 
Woodson  halted  him  twice  but  he  kept  on  moving. 
"There's  a  man  in  the  gallery  now,"  said  the  young  lieutenant. 
"Well,  I  reckon  it's  one  of  the  men  makin'  water  again,'* 
Said  Woodson,  uneasily.  The  lieutenant  stiffened. 
He  was  officer  of  the  guard  and  orders  were  orders. 
"Why  don't  you  use  the  bayonet  on  him?"  he  said. 
Woodson  jumped  forward.  The  bayonet  hunched  and  struck 

The  man  ran  into  the  privy  and  fell  like  a  log 

A  prisoner  said  "You've  killed  him  dead,"  in  a  voice. 
"Yes,  by  God!"  said  Woodson,  cleaning  his  bayonet, 
"They  buried  us  alive  at  Fort  Pillow." 


The  court 

Found  the  sentry  a  trifle  hasty,  but  on  the  whole 
Within  his  instructions,  the  officer's  orders  lawful; 
One  cannot  dispute  the  court. 

And  yet  the  man 

Who  went  to  the  privy  is  inconveniently  dead. 
It  seems  an  excessive  judgment  for  going  there. 

The  little  pictures  wreathe  into  smoke  again. 
The  mummy-cases  close  upon  the  dark  legion. 
The  papers  are  filed  away. 

If  they  once  were  sent 

To  another  court  for  some  last  woid  of  review, 
They  are  back  again.  It  seems  strange  that  such  tidy  files 
Of  correspondence  respectfully  submitted 
Should  be  returned  from  God  with  no  final  endorsement. 

The  slow  carts  hitched  along  toward  the  place  of  exchange 
Through  a  bleak  wind. 

It  was  not  a  long  wagon  train, 
Wagons  and  horses  were  too  important  to  waste 
On  prisoners  for  exchange,  if  the  men  could  march. 
Many  did  march  and  some  few  died  on  the  way 
But  more  died  up  in  the  wagons,  which  was  not  odd. 
If  a  man  was  too  sick  to  walk,  he  was  pretty  sick. 

They  had  been  two  days  on  the  road. 

Jack  Ellyat  lay 

Between  a  perishing  giant  from  Illinois 
Who  raved  that  he  was  bailing  a  leaky  boat 
Out  on  the  Lakes,  and  a  slight,  tubercular  Jew 
Who  muttered  like  a  sick  duck  when  the  wagon  jounced. 
Bailey  marched.  He  still  was  able  to  march 
But  his  skin  hung  on  him.  He  hummed  to  the  Weaver's  tune. 

They  got  to  the  river  at  last. 

Jack  Ellyat  saw 

A  yellow  stream  and  slow  boats  crossing  the  stream. 
Bailey  had  helped  him  out.  He  was  walking  now 
With  his  arm  around  Bailey's  neck.  Their  course  was  a  crab's. 


The  Jew  was  up  and  staring  with  shoe-button  eyes 
While  his  cough  took  him.  The  giant  lay  on  a  plank, 
Some  men  were  trying  to  lift  him. 

The  wind  blew 

Over  a  knife  of  frost  and  shook  their  rags. 
The  air  was  a  thawing  ice  of  most  pure,  clear  gold. 
They  stared  across  the  river  and  saw  the  flag 
And  the  tall,  blue  soldiers  walking  in  thick,  warm  coats 
Like  strong,  big  men  who  fed  well.  And  then  they  cheered, 
A  dry  thin  cheer,  pumped  up  from  exhausted  lungs 
And  yet  with  a  metal  vibrance. 

The  bright  flag  flapped. 

"I  can  smell  'em  frying  meat,"  said  the  coughing  Jew. 
He  sniffed,  "Oh  God,  I  hope  it  ain't  ham,"  he  said 
With  his  mouth  puckered.  A  number  of  scarecrows  laughed. 
And  then  they  heard  the  echo  of  their  own  cheer 
Flung  back  at  them,  it  seemed,  in  a  high,  shrill  wail 
With  that  tongue  of  metal  pulsing  its  feebleness. 
But  it  did  not  end  like  an  echo,  it  gathered  and  rose, 
It  was  the  Confederate  sick  on  the  other  side, 
Cheering  their  own. 

The  two  weak  crowd-voices  met 
In  one  piping,  gull-like  cry. 

Then  the  boats  began 
To  take  the  weak  men  on  board. 

Jack  Ellyat  walked 

To  his  boat  on  stuffless  legs.  "Keep  quiet,"  he  thought, 
"You're  not  through  yet—you  won't  be  through  till  you  land. 
They  can  jerk  you  back,  even  now,  if  you  look  too  pleased. 
Look  like  a  soldier,  damn  you,  and  show  them  how." 
The  thought  was  childish  but  it  stiffened  his  back 
And  got  him  into  the  boat. 

In  the  midst  of  the  stream 
They  passed  a  boat  with  Confederate  prisoners 
So  near  they  could  yell  at  each  other. 

"Hello  there, -Yank." 
"Hello  Reb"  .  .  .  "You  look  pretty  sick-don't  we  feed  you 

good?"  .  .  . 
"You  don't  look  so  damn  pretty,  yourself"  .  . .  "My,  ain't  that  a 

shame!"  .  * . 

"You'll  look  a  lot  sicker  when  Hooker  gets  after  you."  . . . 
"Hell,  old  Jack'll  take  Hooker  apart  like  a  coffee-pot"  . . . 


"Well,  good-by,  Yank"  . . .  "Good-by,  Reb"  . . .  "Get  fat  if  you 

So  might  meet  and  pass,  perhaps,  on  a  weedier  stream 
Other  boats,  no  more  heavily  charged,  to  a  wet,  black  oar. 
Bailey  watched  the  boat  move  away  with  its  sick  grey  men 
Still  yelling  stingless  insults  through  tired  lips. 
He  cupped  his  hands  to  his  mouth.  "Oh —    he  roared, 
Then  he  sank  back,  coughing. 

"They  look  pretty  bad,"  he  said 
"They  look  glad  to  get  back.  They  ain't  such  bad  Rebs  at  that. 

The  boat's  nose  touched  the  wharf.  It  swung  and  was  held. 
They  got  out.  They  didn't  move  toward  the  camp  at  first. 
They  looked  back  at  the  river  first  and  the  other  side, 
Without  saying  words.  They  stood  there  thus  for  a  space 
Like  a  row  of  tattered  cranes  at  the  edge  of  a  stream, 
Blinking  at  something. 

"All  right,  you  men,"  said  an  officer.  "Come  along." 
Jack  Ellyat's  heart  made  a  sudden  lump  in  his  chest. 
It  was  a  blue  officer.  They  were  back  in  their  lines, 
Back  out  of  prison. 

Bailey  whirled  out  his  arm 

In  a  great  wheel  gesture.  "Hell,"  he  said  in  a  low, 
Moved  voice,  thumbed  his  nose  across  at  the  Stars  and  Bars 
And  burst  into  horrible  tears.  Jack  Ellyat  held  him. 
"Captain,  when  do  we  eat?"  said  the  Jew  in  a  wail. 


Cudjo  breathed  on  the  silver  urn 
And  rubbed  till  his  hand  began  to  burn, 
With  his  hoarded  scrap  of*chamois-skin. 
The  metal  glittered  like  bright  new  tin 
And  yet,  as  he  labored,  his  mouth  was  sad- 
"Times  is  gettin'  almighty  bad. 
Christmas  a-comin',  sure  and  swif , 
But  no  use  hollerin'  Christmas  GifP 
No  use  keepin'  the  silver  fitting 
No  use  doin'  nothin'  but  sittin'. 


Old  Marse  Billy  stayin*  away, 
Yankees  shootin'  at  Young  Marse  Clay, 
Grey  hairs  in  Miss  Mary's  brush, 
And  a-whooin'  wind  in  de  berry-bush, 
Dat  young  red  setter  done  eat  her  pups, 
We  was  washin'  de  tea  set  an'  bust  two  cups, 
Just  come  apart  in  Liza's  han'— 
Christmas,  where  has  you  gwine  to,  man? 
i  Won't  you  never  come  back  again? 
I  feels  like  a  cat  in  de  outdoors  rain." 
Christmas  used  to  come  without  fail, 
A  big  old  man  with  a  raccoon  tail, 
So  fine  and  bushy  it  brushed  the  ground 
And  made  folks  sneeze  when  he  waltzed  around. 
He  was  rolling  river  and  Jucky  sun 
And  a  laugh  like  a  double-barrelled  gun, 
And  the  chip-straw  hat  on  his  round,  bald  head 
Was  full  of  money  and  gingerbread. 
"Come  in,  Christmas,  and  have  a  cheer! 
But,  if  he's  comin',  he  won't  stop  here, 
He  likes  folks  cheerful  and  dinners  smokin' 
And  famblies  shootin'  off  caps  and  jokin', 
But  he  won't  find  nothin'  on  dis  plantation, 
But  a  lot  of  grievin'  conversation. 

Dey's  tooken  de  carpets  and  window-weights 
To  go  and  shoot  at  de  Yankee  States, 
Dey's  tooken  Nelly,  de  cross-eye  mule, 
And  whoever  took  her  was  one  big  fool; 
Dey's  tooken  dis  an*  dey's  tooken  dat, 
Till  I  kain't  make  out  what  dey's  drivin'  at. 
But  if  Ole  Marse  Billy  could  see  dis  place 
He'd  cuss  all  Georgia  blue  in  de  face. 
To  see  me  wuhkin  with  dis  ole  shammy 
Like  a  field-hand-nigger  fum  Alabammy, 
And  Ole  Miss  wearin'  a  corn-husk  hat, 
Dippin'  ole  close  in  de  dyein'  vat, 
Scrapin*  her  petticoats  up  for  lint 
An'  bilin'  her  tea  out  of  julep-mint. 

Young  Marse  Clay  he'd  feel  mighty  sad 
If  he'd  seed  de  weddin'  his  sisters 


De  grooms  was  tall  and  de  brides  was  fine, 
But  dey  drunk  de  health  in  blackberry  wine, 
And  supper  was  thu  at  half -past-nine. 

Weddin's  ust  to  last  for  a  week, 

But  now  we's  rowin'  up  Hard  Times  Creek. 

Somethings  conjured  dis  white-folks'  South. 

Somethin'  big  with  a  hongry  mouth, 

Eatin'  an'  eatin'— I  done  my  bes', 

Scattered  de  fedders  and  burnt  de  nes', 

Filled  de  bottle  an'  made  de  hand 

An'  buried  de  trick  in  Baptis'  land, 

An'  dat  trick's  so  strong,  1  was  skeered  all  night, 

But,  somehow  or  udder,  it  don'  wuhk  right. 

Ef  I  got  me  a  piece  of  squinch-owl's  tail 

An'  some  dead-folks'  yearth  fum  de  county  jail, 

It  mout  wuhk  better— but  I  ain't  sho', 

And  de  wind  keeps  scrabblin'  under  de  do', 

Scratchin'  and  scratchin'  his  buzzard-claws, 

Won't  nuthin'  feed  you,  hongry  jaws? 

Field  hands  keeps  on  hoein'  de  corn, 
Stupidest  niggers  ever  born, 
All  dey's  good  for  is  gravy -lickin', 
Ram-buttin'  and  cotton-pickin'; 
Dey  don't  hear  de  wind  in  de  slew, 
But  dat  wind's  blowin'  over  'em  too, 
An'  dat  wind's  res'less  an'  dat  wind's  wile, 
An'  dat  wind  aches  like  a  motherless  chile, 
Won't  nuthin'  feed  you,  achin'  wind?" 

The  hand  stopped  rubbing.  The  spoons  were  shined. 
He  put  them  back  in  the  flannel  bag 
And  stared  at  his  scrap  of  chamois-rag. 
War  was  a  throat  that  swallowed  things 
And  you  couldn't  cure  it  with  conjurings. 

Sally  Dupre  watched  over  her  dyeing-pots, 

Evening  was  setting  in  with  a  light  slow  rain 

That  marched  like  a  fairy  army— there  being  nothing 


From  the  white  fog  on  the  hill  to  the  soaked  door-stone 
But  a  moving  grey  and  silver  hurry  of  lances, 
Distinct  yet  crowded,  thin  as  the  edge  of  the  moon, 
Carried  in  no  fleshed  hand. 

She  thought  to  herself, 

"I  have  stained  my  arms  with  new  colors,  doing  this  work, 
The  red  is  pokeberry- juice,  the  grey  is  green  myrtle, 
The  deep  black  is  queen's  delight. 

If  he  saw  me  now 

With  my  hands  so  parti-colored  he  would  not  know  them. 
He  likes  girls'  hands  that  nothing  has  stained  but  lotions, 
This  is  too  fast  a  dye. 

I  will  dye  my  heart 

In  a  pot  of  queen's  delight,  in  the  pokeberry  sap, 
I  will  dye  it  red  and  black  in  the  fool's  old  colors 
And  send  it  to  him,  wrapped  in  a  calico  rag, 
To  keep  him  warm  through  the  rain, 

It  will  keep  him  warm. 

And  women  in  love  do  better  without  a  heart. 
What  fools  we  are  to  wait  the  wheel  of  the  year, 
The  year  will  not  help  our  trouble. 

What  fools  we  are 
To  give  our  parti-colored  hearts  to  the  rain. 

I  am  tired  of  the  slogans  now  and  tired  of  -the  saving, 

I  want  to  dance  all  night  in  a  brand-new  dress 

And  forget  about  wars  and  love  and  the  South  and  courage. 

The  South  is  an  old  high  house  full  of  charming  ladies, 
The  war  is  a  righteous  war  full  of  gallant  actions, 
And  love  is  a  ^yhite  camellia  worn  in  the  hair. 

But  I  am  tired  of  talking  to  charming  ladies 
And  the  smell  of  the  white  camellia,  I  will  dye 
My  hands  twice  as  black  as  ink  in  the  working  waters 
And  wait  like  a  fool  for  bitter  love  to  come  home. 

He  was  wounded  this  year.  They  hurt  him.  They  hurt  you, 


I  have  no  doubt  she  came  with  a  bunch  of  flowers 
And  talked  to  your  wound  and  you  like  a  charming  lady, 
I  have  no  doubt  that  she  came. 


Her  heart  is  not  parti-colored.  Shell  not  go  steeping 
Her  gentle  hands  in  the  pulp  and  the  dead  black  waters 
Till  die  crooked  blot  lies  there  like  a  devil's  shadow, 
And  the  heart  is  stained  with  the  stain. 

If  I  came  to  the  bed  where  you  lay  sick  and  in  fever, 
I  would  not  come  with  little  tight-fisted  flowers 
But  with  the  white  heron's  plume  that  lay  in  the  forest 
Till  it  was  cooler  than  sleep. 

The  living  balm  would  touch  on  your  wound  less  gently, 
The  Georgia  sun  less  fierce  than  my  arms  to  hold  you, 
The  steel  bow  less  stubborn  than  my  curved  body 
Strung  against  august  death. 

They  hurt  you,  darling,  they  hurt  you  and  I  not  with  you, 
I  nowhere  there  to  slit  the  cloth  from  your  burning, 
To  find  the  head  of  the  man  who  fired  the  bullet 
And  give  his  eyes  to  the  crows. 

House,  house,  house,  it  is  not  that  my  friend  was  wounded, 
But  that  you  kept  him  from  me  while  he  had  freedom, 
You  and  the  girl  whose  heart  is  a  snuffed  white  candle- 
Now  I  will  curse  you  both. 

Comely  house,  high-courteous  house  of  the  gentle, 
You  must  win  your  war  for  my  friend  is  mixed  in  your  quarrel, 
But  then  you  must  fall,  you  must  fall,  for  your  walls  divide  us, 
Your  worn  stones  keep  us  apart. 

I  am  sick  of  the  bland  camellias  in  your  old  gardens, 
Your  pride  and  passion  are  not  my  pride  and  my  passion, 
I  am  strangling  to  death  in  your  cables  of  honeysuckle, 
Your  delicate  lady-words. 

I  would  rather  dig  in  the  earth  than  learn  your  patience, 
I  have  need  of  a  sky  that  never  was  cut  for  dresses 
And  a  rough  ground  to  tear  my  hands  on  like  lion's  clothing, 
And  a  hard  wheel  to  move. 

The  low  roof  by  the  marches  of  rainy  weather, 
The  sharp  love  that  carries  the  fool's  old  colors, 


The  bare  bed  that  is  not  a  saint's  or  a  lady's, 
The  strong  death  at  the  end. 

They  hurt  you,  darling,  they  hurt  you,  and  I  not  with  you, 
I  nowhere  by  to  see  you,  to  touch  my  darling, 
To  take  your  fever  upon  me  if  1  could  take  it 
And  burn  my  hands  at  your  wound. 

If  I  had  been  there—oh,  how  surely  I  would  have  found  you* 
How  surely  killed  your  foe—and  sat  by  your  bedside 
All  night  long,  like  a  mouse,  like  a  stone  unstirring, 
Only  to  hear  your  slow  breath  moving  the  darkness, 
Only  to  hear,  more  precious  than  childish  beauty, 
The  slow  tired  beat  of  your  heart." 

Wingate  sat  by  a  smoky  fire 

Mending  a  stirrup  with  rusty  wire. 

His  brows  were  clenched  in  the  workman's  frown, 

In  a  day  or  a  week  they'd  be  back  in  town, 

He  thought  of  it  with  a  brittle  smile 

That  mocked  at  guile  for  its  lack  of  guile 

And  mocked  at  ease  for  its  lack  of  ease. 

It  was  better  riding  through  rainy  trees 

And  playing  tag  with  the  Union  spies 

Than  telling  ladies  the  pleasant  lies, 

And  yet,  what  else  could  you  do,  on  leave? 

He  touched  a  rent  in  his  dirty  sleeve, 

That  was  the  place  that  the  bullet  tore 

From  the  blue-chinned  picket  whose  belt  he  wore, 

The  man  who  hadn't  been  quick  enough, 

And  the  powder-burn  on  the  other  cuff 

Belonged  to  the  fight  with  the  Yankee  scout 

Who  died  in  Irish  when  he  went  out. 

He  thought  of  these  things  as  a  man  might  think 

Of  certain  trees  by  a  river-brink, 

Seen  in  a  flash  from  a  passing  train, 

And,  before  you  could  look  at  them,  gone  again. 

It  was  more  important  to  eat  and  drink 

Than  give  the  pain  or  suffer  the  pain 

And  life  was  too  rapid  for  memory. 


"There  are  certain  things  that  will  cling  to  me, 
But  not  the  things  that  I  thought  would  cling, 
And  the  wound  in  my  body  cannot  sting 
Like  the  tame  black  crow  with  the  bandaged  wing, 
The  nervous  eye  and  the  hungry  craw 
That  picked  at  the  dressing-station  straw 
Till  I  was  afraid  it  would  pick  my  eyes 
And  couldn't  lift  hand  to  beat  it  off. 
I  can  tell  the  ladies  the  usual  lies 
Of  the  wild  night-duels  when  two  scouts  clash 
And  your  only  light  is  his  pistol-flash; 
But  I  remember  a  watering-trough 
Lost  in  a  little  brushwood  town 
And  the  feel  of  Black  Whistle  slumping  down 
Under  my  knees  in  the  yellow  air, 
Hit  by  a  bullet  from  God  knows  where  . .  . 
Not  the  long,  mad  ride  round  the  Union  lines 
But  the  smell  of  the  swamp  at  Seven  Pines, 
The  smell  of  the  swamp  by  Gaines's  Mill, 
And  Lee  in  the  dusk  before  Malvern  Hill, 
Riding  along  with  his  shoulders  straight 
Like  a  sending  out  of  the  Scsean  Gate, 
The  cold  intaglio  of  war. 
'This  is  Virginia's  Iliad? 
But  Troy  was  taken  nevertheless— 
I  remember  the  eyes  my  father  had 
When  we  saw  our  dead  in  the  Wilderness— 
I  cannot  remember  any  more- 
Lucy  will  wear  her  English  gown 
When  the  Black  Horse  Troop  comes  back  to  town, 
Pin  her  dress  with  a  silver  star 
And  tell  our  shadows  how  brave  we  are. 
Lucy  I  like  your  white-and-gold— " 

He  blew  on  his  hands  for  the  day  was  cold, 
And  the  damp,  green  wood  gave  little  heat: 
There  was  something  in  him  that  matched  the  sleet 
And  washed  its  hands  in  a  rainy  dream, 
Till  the  stirrup-strap  and  the  horses'  steam 
And  Shepley  and  Bristol  behind  his  back, 
Playing  piquet  with  a  dog-eared  pack 


And  the  hiss  of  the  sap  in  the  smoky  wood 

Mixed  for  a  moment  in  something  good, 

Something  outside  of  peace  or  war 

Or  a  fair  girl  wearing  a  silver  star, 

Something  hardly  as  vain  as  pride 

And  gaunt  as  the  men  he  rode  beside. 

It  made  no  comments  but  it  was  there, 

Real  as  the  color  of  Lucy's  hair 

Or  the  taste  of  Henry  Weatherby's  wine. 

He  thought  "These  people  are  friends  of  mine. 

And  we  certainly  fooled  the  Yanks  last  week, 

When  we  caught  those  wagons  at  Boiling  Creek, 

I  guess  we're  not  such  a  bad  patrol 

If  we  never  get  straight  with  the  muster-roll, 

I  guess,  next  Spring,  we  can  do  it  again—" 

Bristol  threw  down  a  flyspecked  ten, 
"Theah,"  he  said,  in  the  soft,  sweet  drawl 
That  could  turn  as  hard  as  a  Minie-ball, 
"This  heah  day  is  my  lucky  day, 
And  Shepley  nevah  could  play  piquet." 
He  stretched  his  arms  in  a  giant  yawn, 
"Gentlemen,  when  are  we  movin'  on? 
I  have  no  desire  for  a  soldier's  end, 
While  I  still  have  winnin's  that  I  can  spend 
And  they's  certain  appointments  with  certain  ladies 
Which  I'd  miss  right  smart  if  I  went  to  Hades, 
Especially  one  little  black-eyed  charmer 
Whose  virtue,  one  hopes,  is  her  only  armor, 
So  if  Sergeant  Wingate's  mended  his  saddle 
I  suggest  that  we  all  of  us  now  skedaddle, 
To  employ  a  term  that  the  Yankees  favor—" 
He  tasted  his  words,  for  he  liked  the  flavor. 
"And  yet,  one  dreads  to  be  back,"  said  he, 
"One  knows  how  tippled  one  well  may  be 
If  one  meets  with  the  oppor-tun-ity. 
And  even  the  charmers  can  likewise  raise 
Unpleasant  doubts  that  may  last  for  days- 
Ana  as  one,"  he  sighed,  "of  our  martial  lads, 
I'd  rather  be  chargin'  Columbiads, 
Than  actin'  sweet  to  some  old  smooth-bore 
When  he  tells  me  how  he  could  win  the  War 


By  burnin'  the  next  Yank  crossroads-store. 
The  Yanks  aren't  always  too  blame  polite, 
But  they  fight  like  sin  when  they've  got  to  fight, 
And  after  they've  almost  nailed  your  hide 
To  your  stinkin'  saddle  in  some  ole  ride, 
It  makes  you  mad  when  some  nice  home-guard 
Tells  you  they  nevah  could  combat  hard. 
I  have  no  desire  to  complain  or  trouble 
But  I'd  find  this  conflict  as  comfortable 
As  a  big  green  pond  for  a  duck  to  swim  in, 
If  it  wasn't  for  leave,  and  the  lovin'  women." 

The  snow  lay  hard  on  the  hills.  You  could  burn  your  eyes 

By  too-long-looking  into  the  cold  ice-lens 

Of  infinite,  pure,  glittering,  winter  air. 

It  was  as  cold  as  that,  as  sparkling  as  that, 

Where  the  crystal  trees  stood  up  like  strange,  brittle  toys 

After  the  sleet  storm  passed,  till  the  setting  sun 

Hung  the  glass  boughs  with  rainbows  frozen  to  gems 

And  the  long  blue  shadows  pooled  in  the  still  hill-hollows. 

The  white  and  the  purple  lilacs  of  New  England 

Are  frozen  long,  they  will  not  bloom  till  the  rains, 

But  when  you  look  from  the  window,  you  see  them  there, 

A  great  field  of  white  lilacs. 

A  gathered  sheaf 
Of  palest  blossoms  of  lilac,  stained  with  the  purple  evening. 

Jack  Ellyat  turned  away  from  the  window  now, 
The  frosty  sleighbell  of  winter  was  in  his  ears, 
He  saw  the  new  year,  a  child  in  a  buffalo-robe, 
Dragged  in  a  sleigh  whose  runners  were  polished  steel 
Up  the  long  hill  of  February,  into  chill  light. 
Tne  child  slept  in  the  robe  like  a  reindeer-colt, 
Nuzzled  under  the"  winter.  The  bright  bells  rang. 

He  warmed  his  hands  at  the  stove  and  shivered  a  little 
Hearing  that  ice-sweet  chime. 

He  was  better  now, 
But  his  blood  felt  thin  when  he  thought  of  skating  along 


Over  black  agate  floors  in  the  bonfire  light 
Or  beating  a  girl's  red  mittens  free  of  the  snow, 
And  he  slept  badly  at  times,  when  his  flesh  recalled 
Certain  smells  and  sights  that  were  prison. 

He  stared  at  the  clock  where  Phaeton's  horses  lunged 
With  a  queer  nod  of  recognition.  The  rest  had  altered, 
People  and  winter  and  nightmares  and  Ellen  Baker, 
Or  stayed  in  a  good  dimension  that  he  had  lost, 
But  Phaeton  was  the  same.  He  said  to  himself, 
"I  have  met  you  twice,  old,  drunken  charioteer, 
Once  in  the  woods,  and  once  in  a  dirty  shack 
Where  Death  was  a  coin  of  spittle  left  on  the  floor. 
I  suppose  we  will  meet  again  before  there's  an  end, 
Well,  let  it  happen. 

It  must  have  been  cold  last  year 
At  Fredericksburg.  I'm  glad  I  wasn't  in  that. 
Melora,  what's  happened  to  you?" 

He  saw  Melora 

Walking  down  from  the  woods  in  the  low  spring  light. 
His  body  hurt  for  a  minute,  but  then  it  stopped. 
He  was  getting  well.  He'd  have  to  go  back  pretty  soon. 
He  grinned,  a  little  dryly,  thinking  of  chance, 
Father  had  seen  the  congressman  after  all, 
Just  before  Shiloh.  So  now,  nearly  ten  months  later, 
The  curious  wheels  that  are  moved  by  such  congressmen 
Were  sending  him  back  to  the  Army  of  the  Potomac, 
Back  with  the  old  company,  back  with  the  Eastern  voices, 
Henry  Fairfield  limping  along  with  his  sticks, 
Shot  through  both  hips  at  Antietam. 

He  didn't  care, 

Except  for  losing  Bailey,  which  made  it  tough. 
He  tried  to  puzzle  out  the  change  in  his  world 
But  gave  it  up.  Things  and  people  looked  just  the  same, 
You  could  love  or  like  or  detest  them  just  the  same  way, 
But  whenever  you  tried  to  talk  of  your  new  dimension 
It  didn't  sound  right,  except  to  creatures  like  Bailey. 
"I  have  met  you  twice,  old,  drunken  charioteer, 
The  third  time  you  may  teach  me  how  to  be  cool." 

Ned,  asleep  by  the  stove,  woke  up  and  yawned, 
"Hello  Ned,"  said  his  master,  with  a  half-smile, 


"I  told  a  girl  about  you,  back  in  a  wood, 
You'd  like  that  girl.  She'd  rub  the  back  of  youi  cars. 
And  Bailey'd  like  you  too,  I  wish  Bailey  was  here. 
Want  to  go  to  war,  Ned?"  Ned  yawned  largely  again. 
Ellyat  laughed.  "You're  right,  old  fella,"  he  said, 
"You  get  too  mixed  up  in  a  war.  You  better  stay  here. 
God,  I'd  like  to  sleep  by  a  stove  for  a  million  years, 
Turn  into  a  dog  and  remember  how  to  stand  cold," 
The  clock  struck  five.  Jack  Ellyat  jumped  at  the  sound 
Then  he  sank  back.  "No,  fooled  you  that  time,"  he  said, 
As  if  the  strokes  had  been  bullets. 

Then  he  turned 

To  see  his  mother,  coming  in  with  a  lamp, 
And  taste  the  strange  tastes  of  supper  and  quietness. 

John  Vilas  heard  the  beating  of  another 

Sleet  at  another  and  a  rougher  wall 

While  his  hands  knotted  together  and  then  unknotted. 

Each  time  she  had  to  moan,  his  hands  shut  down, 

And  now  the  moans  were  coming  close  together, 

Close  as  bright  streaks  of  hail. 

The  younger  children 
Slept  the  uneasy  sleep  of  innocent  dogs 
Who  know  there's  something  strange  about  the  house, 
Stranger  than  storms,  and  yet  they  have  to  sleep, 
And  someone  has  to  watch  them  sleeping  now. 

"Harriet's  right  and  Harriet's  upstairs, 

And  Harriet  cried  like  this  when  she  gave  birth, 

Eighteen  years  back,  in  that  chintz-curtained  room, 

And  her  long  cry  ran  like  an  icicle 

Into  my  veins.  I  can  remember  yet 

The  terrible  old  woman  with  the  shawl 

Who  sat  beside  me,  like  deserted  Fate, 

Cursing  me  with  those  eyes  each  time  she  cried, 

Although  she  must,  one  time,  have  cried  like  that 

And  been  the  object  of  as  wild  a  cry, 

And  so  far  back,— and  on— and  always  that, 

The  linked,  the  agonizing  chain  of  cries 

Brighter  than  steel,  because  earth  will  be  earth 


And  the  sun  strike  it,  and  the  seed  have  force. 
And  yet  no  cry  has  touched  me  like  this  cry. 

Harriet's  right  and  Harriet's  upstairs 

And  Harriet  would  have  kept  her  from  today, 

And  now  today  has  come,  I  look  at  it, 

Under  the  icicle,  and  wish  it  gone, 

Because  it  hurts  me  to  be  sitting  here, 

Biting  my  fingers  at  my  daughter's  cry 

And  knowing  Harriet  has  the  harder  task 

As  she  has  had  for  nearly  twenty  years. 

And  yet,  what  I  have  sought  that  I  have  sought 

And  cannot  disavouch  for  my  own  pang, 

Or  be  another  father  to  the  girl 

Than  he  who  let  her  run  the  woods  alone 

Looking  for  stones  that  have  no  business  there. 

For  Harriet  sees  a  dozen  kinds  of  pain. 

And  some  are  blessed,  being  legitimate, 

And  some  are  cursed,  being  outside  a  law: 

But  she  and  I  see  only  pain  itself 

And  are  hard-hearted  with  our  epitaphs, 

And  yet  I  wish  I  could  not  hear  that  cry.. 

I  know  that  it  will  pass  because  all  things 

Pass  but  the  search  that  only  ends  with  breath, 

And,  even  after  that,  my  daughter  and  I 

May  still  get  up  from  bondage,  being  such 

Smoke  as  no  chain  of  steel-bright  cries  can  chain 

To  walk  like  Indian  Summer  through  the  woods 

And  be  the  solitaries  of  the  wind 

Till  we  are  sleepy  as  old  clouds  at  last. 

She  has  a  lover  and  will  have  a  child 
And  I'm  alone.  I  had  forgotten  that, 
Though  you'd  not  think  it  easy  to  forget. 
No,  we'll  not  go  together. 

The  cries  beat 

Like  hail  upon  the  cold  panes  of  my  heart 
Faster  and  faster,  till  they  crack  the  glass 
And  I  can  know  at  last  how  old  I  am. 

That  is  my  punishment  and  my  defence, 
My  ecstasy  and  my  deep-seated  bane. 


I  prayed  to  life  for  life  once,  in  my  youth, 
Between  the  rain  and  a  long  stroke  of  cloud 
Till  my  soaked  limbs  felt  common  with  the  sky 
And  the  black  stone  of  heaven  swung  aside, 
With  a  last  clap  of  water,  to  reveal 
Lonely  and  timid,  after  all  that  wrath, 
The  small,  cold,  perfect  flower  of  the  new  moon 
And  now,  perhaps,  I'll  pray  again  tonight, 
Still  to  the  life  that  used  me  as  a  man 
Uses  and  wears  a  strong  and  riotous  horse, 
Still  to  the  vagrants  of  no  fortunate  word. 

Men  who  go  looking  for  the  wilderness-stone, 

Eaters  of  life  who  run  away  from  bread 

And  are  not  satisfied  with  lucky  days! 

Robbers  of  airy  gold,  skin-changing  men 

Who  find  odd  brothers  when  the  moon  is  full, 

Stray  alchemics  who  entertain  an  imp 

And  feed  it  plums  within  a  hollow  tree 

Until  its  little  belly  is  sufficed, 

Men  who  have  seen  the  bronze  male-partridge  beat 

His  drum  of  feathers  not  ten  feet  away, 

Men  who  have  listened  to  ^ild  geese  at  night 

Until  your  hearts  were  hollowed  with  that  sound, 

Moth-light  and  owl-light  and  first-dayspring  men, 

Seekers  and  seldom-finders  of  the  woods, 

But  always  seekers  till  your  eyes  are  shut; 

I  have  an  elder  daughter  that  I  love 

And,  having  loved  from  childhood,  would  not  tame 

Because  I  once  was  tamed. 

If  you're  my  friends, 
Then  she's  your  friend. 

I  do  not  ask  for  her 
Refusal  or  compunction  or  the  safe 
Road  between  little  houses  and  old  gates 
Where  Death  lies  sleepy  as  a  dog  in  the  sun 
And  the  slow  cows  come  home  with  evening  bells 
Into  the  tired  peace  that's  good  for  pain. 
Those  who  are  never  tired  of  eating  life 
Must  immolate  themselves  against  a  star 
Sooner  or  late,  as  she  turns  crucified 
Now,  on  that  flagellating  wheel  of  light 


Which  will  not  miss  one  revolution's  turn 

For  any  anguish  we  can  bring  to  it, 

Because  it  is  our  master  and  our  stone, 

Body  of  pain,  body  of  sharpened  fire, 

Body  of  quenchless  life,  itself,  itself, 

That  safety  cannot  buy  or  peddlers  sell 

Or  the  rich  cowards  leave  their  silly  sons. 

But,  oh, 

She's  tired  out,  she's  broken,  she's  athirst. 

Wrap  her  in  twilights  now,  she  is  so  torn, 

And  mask  again  the  cold,  sweat-runnelled  mask 

With  the  deep  silence  of  a  leafy  wood 

So  cool  and  dim  its  birds  are  all  asleep 

And  will  not  fret  her.  Wipe  her  straining  hands 

With  the  soft,  gleaming  cobwebs  April  spins 

Out  of  bright  silver  tears  and  spider  silk 

Till  they  are  finer  than  the  handkerchiefs 

Of  a  young,  wild,  spear-bearing  fairy-queen. 

Soothe  her  and  comfort  her  and  let  her  hear 

No  harshness  but  the  mumbling  peaceful  sound 

The  fed  bee  grumbles  to  his  honey-bags 

In  the  red  foxglove's  throat. 

Oh,  if  you  are 
Anything  but  lost  shadows,  go  to  her!" 

Melora  did  not  make  such  words  for  herself, 
Being  unable,  and  too  much  in  pain. 
If  wood-things  were  beside  her,  she  did  not  see  them, 
But  only  a  lamp,  and  hands. 

The  pains  came  hard  now, 
A  fist  that  hardly  opened  before  it  shut, 
A  red  stair  mounting  into  an  ultimate 
Flurry  of  misty  conflict,  when  it  seemed 
As  if  she  fought  against  the  parth  itself 
For  mere  breath  and  something  other  than  mere  breath. 
She  heard  the  roar  of  the  tunnel,  drowned  in  earth. 
Earth  and  its  expulsive  waters,  tearing  her,  being  born. 
Then  it  was  yellow  silence  and  a  weak  crying. 

After  the  child  was  washed,  they  showed  her  the  child, 
Breakable,  crumpled,  breathing,  swathed  and  indignant, 
With  all  its  nails  and  hands  that  moved  of  themselves— 


A  queer  thing  to  come  out  of  that,  but  then  it  was  there. 
"Looks  healthy  enough/'  said  her  mother  in  a  tired  voice. 
Melora  stared.  "He's  got  blue  eyes,"  she  said  finally. 
Her  mother  sniffed.  "A  lot  of  'em  start  out  blue." 
She  looked  at  the  child  as  if  she  wanted  to  tell  it, 
"You  aren't  respectable.  What  are  you  doing  here?" 
But  the  child  began  wailing.  She  rocked  it  mechanically. 
The  rain  kept  on  through  the  night  but  nobody  listened. 
The  parents  talked  for  a  while,  then  they  fell  asleep. 
Even  the  new  child  slept  with  its  fists  tight  shut. 
Melora  heard  the  rain  for  a  single  moment 
And  then  deep,  beautiful  nothing.  "Over,"  she  thought. 
She  slept,  handfasted  to  the  wilderness-stone. 

Now  the  earth  begins  to  roll  its  wheel  toward  the  sun, 
The  deep  mud-gullies  are  drying. 

The  sluggish  armies 

That  have  slept  the  bear-months  through  in  their  winter-camps, 
Begin  to  stir  and  be  restless. 

They're  tired  enough 

Of  leaky  huts  and  the  rain  and  punishment-drill. 
They  haven't  forgotten  what  it  was  like  last  time, 
But  next  time  we'll  lick  'em,  next  time  it  won't  be  so  bad, 
Somehow  we  won't  get  killed,  we  won't  march  so  hard. 
"These  huts  looked  pretty  good  when  we  first  hit  camp 
But  they  look  sort  of  lousy  now— we  might  as  well  git- 
Fight  the  Rebs-and  the  Yanks-and  finish  it  up." 
So  they  think  in  the  bored,  skin-itching  months 
While  the  roads  are  drying.  "We're  sick  of  this  crummy  place, 
We  might  as  well  git,  it  doesn't  much  matter  where." 
But  when  they  git,  they  are  cross  at  leaving  the  huts, 
"We  fixed  up  ours  first  rate.  We  had  regular  lamps. 
We  knew  the  girls  at  the  Depot.  It  wasn't  so  bad. 
Why  the  hell  do  we  have  to  git  when  we  just  got  fixed? 
Oh,  well,  we  might  as  well  travel." 

So  they  go  on, 
The  huts  drop  behind,  the  dry  road  opens  ahead  .... 

Fighting  Joe  Hooker  feels  good  when  he  looks  at  his  men. 
A  blue-eyed,  uncomplex  man  with  a  gift  for  phrase. 
"The  finest  army  on  the  planet,"  he  says. 


The  phrase  is  to  turn  against  him  with  other  phrases 

When  he  is  beaten-but  now  he  is  confident. 

Tall,  sandy,  active,  sentimental  and  tart, 

His  horseman's  shoulder  is  not  yet  bowed  by  the  weight 

Of  knowing  the  dice  are  his  and  the  cast  of  them, 

The  weight  of  command,  the  weight  of  Lee's  ghostly  name, 

He  rides,  preparing  his  fate. 

In  the  other  camps, 

Lee  writes  letters,  is  glad  to  get  buttermilk, 
Wrings  food  and  shoes  and  clothes  from  his  commissariat, 
Trusts  in  God  and  whets  a  knife  on  a  stone. 
Jackson  plays  with  his  new-born  daughter,  waiting  for  Spring, 
His  rare  laugh  clangs  as  he  talks  to  his  wife  and  child. 
He  is  looking  well.  War  always  agrees  with  him, 
And  this,  perhaps,  is  the  happiest  time  of  his  life. 
He  has  three  months  of  it  left. 

By  the  swollen  flood 

Of  the  Mississippi,  stumpy  Grant  is  a  mole 
Gnawing  at  Vicksburg.  He  has  been  blocked  four  times 
But  he  will  carry  that  beaver-dam  at  last. 
There  is  no  brilliant  lamp  in  that  dogged  mind 
And  no  conceit  of  brilliance  to  shake  the  hand, 
But  hand  and  mind  can  use  the  tools  that  they  get 
This  long  way  out  of  Galena. 

Sherman  is  there 

And  Sherman  loves  him  and  finds  him  hard  to  make  out, 
In  Sherman's  impatient  fashion— the  quick,  sharp  man 
Seeing  ten  thousand  things  where  the  slow  sees  one 
And  yet  with  a  sort  of  younger  brother  awe 
At  the  infinite  persistence  of  that  slow  will 
—They  make  a  good  pair  of  hunting  dogs,  Grant  and  Sherman, 
The  nervous,  explosive,  passionate,  slashing  hound 
And  the  quiet,  equable,  deadly  holder-on, 
Faded-brown  as  a  cinnamon-bear  in  Spring- 
See  them  like  that,  the  brown  dog  and  the  white  dog, 
Calling  them  back  and  forth  through  the  scrubby  woods 
After  the  little  white  scut  of  Victory, 
Or  see  them  as  elder  brother  and  younger  brother, 
But  remember  this.  In  their  time  they  were  famous  men 
And  yet  they  were  not  jealous,  one  of  the  other. 
When  the  gold  has  peeled  from  the  man  on  the  gilded  horse, 
Riding  Fifth  Avenue,  and  the  palm-girl's  blind; 


When  the  big  round  tomb  gapes  empty  under  the  sky, 

Vacant  with  summer  air,  when  it's  all  forgotten, 

When  nobody  reads  the  books,  when  the  flags  are  moth-dust, 

Write  up  that.  You  won't  have  to  write  it  so  often. 

It  will  do  as  well  as  the  railway-station  tombs. 

So  with  the  troops  and  the  leaders  of  the  bear-armies, 
The  front-page-newspaper-things. 

Tall  Lincoln  reviews 

Endless  columns  crunching  across  new  snow. 
They  pass  uncheering  at  the  marching-salute. 
Lincoln  sits  on  his  horse  with  his  farmer's  seat, 
Watching  the  eyes  go  by  and  the  eyes  come  on. 
The  gaunt,  long  body  is  dressed  in  its  Sunday  black, 
The  gaunt  face,  strange  as  an  omen,  sad  and  foreboding. 
The  eyes  look  at  him,  he  looks  back  at  the  eyes; 
They  pass  and  pass.  They  go  back  to  their  camps  at  last. 
"So  that  was  him,"  they  say.  "So  that's  the  old  man. 
I'm  glad  we  saw  him.  He  isn't  so  much  on  looks 
But  he  looks  like  people  you  know.  He  looks  sad  all  right, 
I  never  saw  nobody  look  quite  as  sad  as  that 
Without  it  made  you  feel  foolish.  He  don't  do  that. 
He  makes  you  feel— I  dunno-Fm  glad  we  could  see  him. 
He  was  glad  to  see  us  but  you  could  tell  all  the  same 
This  war's  plumb  killin'  him.  You  can  tell  by  his  face. 
I  never  saw  such  a  look  on  any  man's  face. 
I  guess  it's  tough  for  him.  Well,  we  saw  him,  for  once." 

That  day  in  Richmond,  a  mob  of  angry  women 

Swarm  in  the  streets  and  riot  for  bread  or  peace. 

They  loot  some  shops,  a  few  for  the  bread  they  need, 

A  few  for  thieving,  most  because  they  are  moved 

By  discontent  and  hunger  to  do  as  the  rest. 

The  troops  are  called  out.  The  troops  are  about  to  fire, 

But  Davis  gets  on  a  wagon  and  calms  the  crowd 

Before  the  tumbled  bodies  clutter  the  street. 

He  never  did  a  better  thing  with  his  voice 

And  it  should  be  told.  Next  day  they  riot  again, 

But  this  time  the  fire  is  weaker.  They  are  dispersed, 

A  few  arrested.  Bread  grows  dearer  than  ever. 

The  housewives  still  go  out  with  their  market-baskets, 

But  coffee's  four  dollars  a  pound  and  tea  eleven. 


They  come  back  with  a  scraping  of  this  and  a  scrap  of  that 
And  try  to  remember  old  lazy,  lagnappe  days, 
The  slew-foot  negro  chanting  his  devilled  crabs 
Along  the  street,  and  the  market-women  piling 
The  wicker  baskets  with  everything  good  and  fresh; 
Topping  it  off  with  a  great  green  fist  of  parsley 
That  you  used  to  pretty  the  sides  of  the  serving-dish 
And  never  bothered  to  eat. 

They  improvise  dishes, 

"Blockade  pudding"  . .  .  "Confederate  fricassee," 
Serve  hominy  grits  on  the  Royal  Derby  china 
And  laugh  or  weep  in  their  cups  of  willow-bark  tea. 

Davis  goes  back  from  the  riot,  his  shoulders  stooped, 
The  glow  of  speech  has  left  him  and  he  feels  cold. 
He  eats  a  scant  meal  quickly  and  turns  to  the  endless 
Papers  piled  on  his  desk,  the  squabbles  and  plans. 
A  haggard  dictator,  fretting  the  men  he  rules 
And  being  fretted  by  them. 

He  dreams,  perhaps, 

Of  old  days,  riding  wild  horses  beside  his  wife 
Back  in  his  youth,  on  a  Mississippi  road. 
That  was  a  good  time.  It  is  past.  He  drowns  in  his  papers. 

The  curtain  is  going  up  on  that  battlesmoked, 
Crowded  third  act  which  is  to  decide  this  war 
And  yet  not  end  it  for  years. 

Turn  your  eyes  away 

From  these  chiefs  and  captains,  put  them  back  in  their  books. 
Let  the  armies  sleep  like  bears  in  a  hollow  cave. 
War  is  an  iron  screen  in  front  of  a  time, 
With  pictures  smoked  upon  it  in  red  and  black, 
Some  gallant  enough,  some  deadly,  but  all  intense. 
We  look  at  the  pictures,  thinking  we  know  the  time, 
We  only  know  the  screen. 

Look  behind  it  now 

At  the  great  parti-colored  quilt  of  these  patchwork  States. 
This  part  and  that  is  vexed  by  a  battle-worm, 
But  the  ploughs  go  ahead,  the  factory  chimneys  smoke, 
A  new  age  curdles  and  boils  in  a  hot  steel  caldron 
And  pours  into  rails  and  wheels  and  fingers  of  steel, 
Steel  is  being  born  like  a  white-hot  rose 

In  the  dark  smoke-cradle  of  Pittsburg- 

a  man  with  a  crude 

Eye  of  metal  and  crystal  looks  at  a  smear 
On  a  thin  glass  plate  and  wonders— 

a  shawled  old  woman 

Sits  on  a  curbstone  calling  the  evening  news. 
War,  to  her,  is  a  good  day  when  papers  sell 
Or  a  bad  day  when  papers  don't.  War  is  fat  black  type. 
Anything's  realer  than  war. 

By  Omaha 

The  valleys  and  gorges  are  white  with  the  covered  wagons 
Moving  out  toward  the  West  and  the  new,  free  land. 
All  through  the  war  they  go  on. 

Five  thousand  teams 

Pass  Laramie  in  a  month  in  the  last  war-year, 
Draft-evaders,  homesteaders,  pioneers, 
Old  soldiers,  Southern  emigrants,  sunburnt  children.  .  .  . 
Men  are  founding  colleges,  finding  gold, 
Selling  bad  beef  to  the  army  and  making  fortunes, 
Ploughing  the  stone-cropped  field  that  their  fathers  ploughed. 
(Anything's  realer  than  war.) 

A  moth  of  a  woman, 

Shut  in  a  garden,  lives  on  scraps  of  Eternity 
With  a  dog,  a  procession  of  sunsets  and  certain  poems 
She  scribbles  on  bits  of  paper.  Such  poems  may  be 
Ice-crystals,  rubies  cracked  with  refracted  light, 
Or  all  vast  death  like  a  wide  field  in  ten  short  lines. 
She  writes  to  the  tough,  swart-minded  Higginson 
Minding  his  negro  troops  in  a  lost  bayou, 
"War  feels  to  me  like  an  oblique  place." 

A  man 

Dreams  of  a  sky  machine  that  will  match  the  birds 
And  another,  dusting  the  shelves  of  a  country  store, 
Saves  his  pennies  until  they  turn  into  dimes. 
(Anything's  realer  than  war.) 

A  dozen  men 

Charter  a  railroad  to  go  all  across  the  Plains 
And  link  two  seas  with  a  whistling  iron  horse. 
A  whiskered  doctor  stubbornly  tries  to  find 
The  causes  of  childbed-fever— and,  doing  so, 
Will  save  more  lives  than  all  these  war-months  have  spent, 
And  never  inhabit  a  railway-station  tomb. 


All  this  through  the  war,  all  this  behind  the  flat  screen. 

I  heard  the  song  of  breath 

Go  up  from  city  and  country, 

The  even  breath  of  the  sleeper, 

The  tired  breath  of  the  sick, 

The  dry  cough  in  the  throat 

Of  the  man  with  the  death-sweat  on  him, 

And  the  quiet  monotone 

We  breathe  but  do  not  hear. 

The  harsh  gasp  of  the  runner, 

The  long  sigh  of  power 

Heaving  the  weight  aloft, 

The  grey  breath  of  the  old. 

Men  at  the  end  of  strength 

With  their  lungs  turned  lead  and  fire, 

Panting  like  thirsty  dogs; 

A  child's  breath,  blowing  a  flame. 

The  breath  that  is  the  voice, 
The  silver,  the  woodwinds  speaking, 
The  dear  voice  of  your  lover, 
The  hard  voice  of  your  foe, 
And  the  vast  breath  of  wind, 
Mysterious  over  mountains, 
Caught  in  pines  like  a  bird 
Or  filling  all  hammered  heaven. 

I  heard  the  song  of  breath. 
Like  a  great  strand  of  music, 
Blown  between  void  and  void, 
Uncorporal  as  the  light. 
The  breath  of  nations  asleep, 
And  the  piled  hills  they  sleep  in, 
The  word  that  never  was  flesh 
And  yet  is  nothing  but  life. 

What  are  you,  bodiless  sibyl, 
Unseen  except  as  the  frost-cloud 
Puffed  from  a  silver  mouth 
When  the  hard  winter's  cold? 


We  cannot  live  without  breath, 

And  yet  we  breathe  without  knowledge 

And  the  vast  strand  of  sound 

Goes  on,  eternally  sighing, 

Without  dimension  or  space, 

Without  beginning  or  end. 

I  heard  the  song  of  breath 
And  lost  it  in  all  sharp  voices, 
Even  my  own  voice  lost 
Like  a  thread  in  that  huge  strand, 
Lost  like  a  skein  of  air, 
And  with  it,  continents  lost 
In  the  great  throat  of  Death. 
I  trembled,  asking  in  vain, 
Whence  come  you,  whither  art  gone? 
The  continents  flow  and  melt 
Like  wax  in  the  naked  candle, 
Burnt  by  the  wick  of  time- 
Where  is  the  breath  of  the  Chaldees, 
The  dark,  Minoan  breath? 
I  said  to  myself  in  hate, 
Hearing  that  mighty  rushing, 
Though  you  raise  a  new  Adam  up 
And  blow  fresh  fire  in  his  visage, 
He  has  only  a  loan  of  air, 
And  gets  but  a  breathing-space. 
But  then  I  was  quieted. 

I  heard  the  song  of  breath, 
The  gulf  hollow  with  voices, 
Fused  into  one  slow  voice 
That  never  paused  or  was  faint. 
Man,  breathing  his  life, 
And  with  him  all  life  breathing, 
The  young  horse  and  the  snake, 
Beetle,  lion  and  dove, 
Solemn  harps  of  the  fir, 
Trumpets  of  sea  and  whirlwind 
And  the  vast,  tiny  grass 
Blown  by  a  breath  and  speaking. 
I  heard  these  things.  I  heard 


The  multitudinous  river. 
When  I  came  back  to  my  life, 
My  voice  was  numb  in  my  ears, 
I  wondered  that  I  still  breathed. 

Sophy,  scared  chambermaid  in  Pollet's  Hotel, 
Turned  the  cornhusk  mattress  and  plumped  the  pillow 
With  slipshod  hands. 

Then  she  picked  the  pillow  up 
And  sniffed  it  greedily. 

Something  in  it  smelt  sweet. 

The  bright,  gold  lady  had  slept  there  the  night  before— 
Oh,  her  lovely,  lovely  clothes!  and  the  little  green  bottle 
That  breathed  out  flowers  when  you  crept  into  the  room 
And  pulled  out  the  silver  stopper  just  far  enough 
To  get  the  sweetness,  not  far  enough  to  be  caught 
If  anyotie  came. 

It  made  her  thin  elbows  ache 
To  think  how  fine  and  golden  the  lady  was 
And  how  sweet  she  smelled,  how  sweet  she  looked  at  the  men, 
How  they  looked  at  her. 

"I'd  like  to  smell  sweet,"  she  thought, 
"Smell  like  a  lady." 

She  put  the  hard  pillow  back. 
The  lady  and  the  green  bottle  had  gone  away. 
—If  only  you  had  clever  hands— after  the  next  sleeper— 
—You  could  steal  green  bottles— the  room  would  smell  stale  again- 
Hide  it  somewhere  under  your  dress— as  it  always  did— 
Stale  cigars  and  tired  bodies— or  even  say 
When  they  reached  to  give  you  the  tip,  "Don't  give  me  a  tip, 
Just  give  me"— unwashed  men  with  their  six-weeks'  beards, 
Trying  to  hold  you  back  when— "that  little  green  bottle, 
I  want  it  so."— but  the  lady  would  never  do  it. 
Ladies  named  Lucy.  Lucy  was  a  good  name, 
Flower-smelling.  Sophy  was  just  a  name. 

She  took  up  her  broom  and  swept  ineffectively, 
Thinking  dim  thoughts. 

The  ladies  named  Lucy  came, 
Sometimes  in  the  winter,  and  then  all  the  men  got  shaved 


And  you  could  look  through  the  door  at  the  people  dancing. 
But  when  battles  drew  near,  the  ladies  went  home  to  stay. 
It  was  right  they  should.  War  wasn't  a  thing  for  ladies. 

War  was  an  endless  procession  of  dirty  boots. 
Filling  pitchers  and  emptying  out  the  slops, 
And  making  the  cornhusk  beds  for  the  unshaved  men 
Who  came  in  tired— but  never  too  tired  to  wonder- 
Look  in  the  eyes— and  hands— and  suppose  you  didn't, 
They  didn't  like  it— and  if  you  did,  it  was  nothing— 
But  they  always— and  rough  sometimes— and  drunk  now  and 


And  a  couple  of  nice  ones-well,  it  didn't  mean  nothing. 
It  was  merely  hard  to  carry  the  heavy  pails 
*  When  you  didn't  get  fed  enough  and  got  up  so  soon. 
But,  now  the  army  was  moving,  there  wouldn't  be 
So  many  men  or  beds  or  slops  for  a  while 
And  that  meant  something. 

She  sighed  and  dabbed  with  her  broom. 

Shippy,  the  little  man  with  the  sharp  rat-eyes, 
Came  behind  her  and  put  his  hands  on  her  waist, 
She  let  him  turn  her  around.  He  held  her  awhile 
While  his  eyes  tried  to  look  at  her  and  over  his  shoulder 
At  once  and  couldn't. 

She  felt  his  poor  body  shake 
But  she  didn't  think  much  about  it. 

He  murmured  something. 

She  shook  her  head  with  the  air  of  a  frightened  doll 
And  he  let  her  go. 

"Well,  I  got  to  go  anyway," 
He  said,  in  a  gloomy  voice.  "I'm  late  as  it  is, 
But  I  thought  that  maybe—"  He  let  the  sentence  trail  off. 

"What  do  you  want,  next  time  I  come  back?"  he  said. 
Her  face  was  sharper.  "You  bring  me  a  bottle,  Charley, 
The  kind  that  lady  had,  with  the  Richmond  scent. 
Hers  has  got  a  big  silver  stopper." 

He  pursed  his  mouth. 

"I  don't  know,"  he  said.  "I'll  try.  I'd  like  to  all  right. 
You  be  a  good  girl  now,  Soph.  Do  you  love  me,  Sophy?" 


"Uh-huh,"  she  said,  in  a  tired  voice,  thinking  of  pitchers. 

"Well,  I— you're  a  good  girl,  Soph."  He  held  her  again. 
"I'm  late,"  he  muttered.  She  looked  at  him  and  felt  mean. 
He  was  skimpy  like  her.  They  ought  to  be  nice  to  each  other. 
She  didn't  like  him  much  but  she  sort  of  loved  him. 
"You  be  a  good  girl  till  Charley  comes  back,"  he  mumbled 
Kissing  her  nervously.  "I'll  bring  you  the  scent." 

"It's  got  a  name  called  French  Lilies,"  she  said.  "Oh,  Charley!" 
They  clung  together  a  moment  like  mournful  shadows. 
He  was  crying  a  little,  the  wet  tears  fell  on  her  chin, 
She  cried  herself  when  he'd  gone,  she  didn't  know  why, 
But  when  she  thought  of  the  scent  with  the  silver  stopper 
She  felt  more  happy.  She  went  to  make  the  next  bed. 

Luke  Breckinridge,  washing  his  shirt  in  a  muddy  pool, 
Chewed  on  a  sour  thought. 

Only  yesterday 

He  had  seen  the  team  creak  by  toward  Pollet's  Hotel 
With  that  damn  little  rat-eyed  peddler  driving  his  mules 
As  if  he  was  God  Almighty. 

He  conjured  up 

A  shadow-Shippy  before  him  to  hate  and  bruise 
As  he  beat  his  shirt  with  a  stone. 

"If  we-uns  was  home, 

I  could  just  lay  for  him  and  shoot  him  out  of  the  bresh, 
Goin'  to  see  my  girl  with  his  lousy  mules. 
Tryin'  to  steal  my  girl  with  his  peddler's  talk!" 

But  here,  in  the  war,  you  could  only  shoot  at  the  Yanks, 

If  you  shot  other  folks,  they  found  out  about  it  and  shot  you, 

Just  like  you  was  a  spyer  or  something  mean 

Instead  of  a  soldier.  There  wasn't  no  sense  to  it. 

"Teach  him  to  steal  my  girl— if  I  had  him  home, 

Back  in  the  mountains— I  told  her  straight  the  last  time, 

You  be  a  good  girl,  Soph,  and  I'll  buy  you  a  dress— 

We  can  fix  the  cabin  up  fine— and  if  we  have  kids 

We'll  get  ourselves  married.  Couldn't  talk  fairer  than  that, 

And  she's  a  good  girl— but  women's  easy  to  change— 

God-damn  peddler,  givin'  her  Richmond  trash, 

And  we-uns  movin'  away  to  scrimmage  the  Yanks 

Before  I  git  a  chance  to  see  her  agin 

And  find  out  if  she's  been  good— He'll  come  back  this  way, 

Drivin'  his  mules— plumb  easy  to  lay  for  him, 

But  they'd  catch  me,  shore." 

His  mouth  had  a  bitter  twist, 

His  slow  mind  grubbed  for  a  plan  to  settle  his  doubts. 
At  last  he  dropped  his  stone  with  a  joyous  whoop. 
"Hey,  Billy,"  he  called  to  his  neighbor.  "Got  your  shirt  dry? 
Well,  lend  it  here  for  a  piece  until  mine's  wrung  out, 
I  got  to  go  see  the  Captain." 

Billy  demurred. 

"I  got  friends  enough  in  this  shirt,"  he  said  with  a  drawl. 
"I  ain't  hankerin'  after  no  visitors  out  of  yours. 
I'm  a  modest  man  and  my  crawl ies  is  sort  of  shy, 
They  don't  mix  well  with  strangers.  They's  Piedmont  crawlies, 
Besides,  this  shirt,  she's  still  got  more  shirt  than  hole, 
Yours  ain't  a  shirt-it's  a  doughnut." 

They  swore  for  a  while 

But  finally  Luke  went  off  with  the  precious  shirt, 
Whistling  the  tuneless  snatch  of  a  mountain  jig, 
"Gawd  help  you,  peddler,"  he  thought,  as  he  looked  for  the 

Shippy  drove  his  rattletrap  cart  along 
Through  the  dusty  evening,  worried  and  ill  at  ease. 
He  ought  to  have  taken  the  other  road  by  the  creek 
But  he'd  wasted  too  much  time  at  Pollet's  Hotel 
Looking  for  Sophy— and  hardly  seen  her  at  that— 
And  now  she  wanted  a  bottle  of  scent. 

His  soul 

Shivered  with  fear  like  a  thin  dog  in  the  cold, 
Raging  in  vain  at  the  terrible  thing  called  Life. 
-There  must  be*a  corner  somewhere  where  you  could  creep, 
Curl  up  soft  and  be  warm— but  he'd  never  found  it. 
The  big  boys  always  stole  his  lunch  at  the  school 
And  rubbed  his  nose  in  the  dirtrand  when  he  grew  up 
It  was  just  the  same. 

There  was  something  under  his  face, 
Something  that  said,  "Come,  bully  me-I  won't  bite." 
He  couldn't  see  it  himself,  but  it  must  be  there. 
He  was  always  going  places  and  thinking,  "This  time, 


They  won't  find  out."  But  they  always  did  find  out 
After  a  while. 

It  had  been  that  way  at  the  store, 
That  way  in  the  army,  that  way  now  as  a  spy. 
Behind  his  eyes  he  built  up  a  super-Shippy 
Who  ordered  people  around,  loved  glittering  girls, 
Threw  out  his  chest  and  died  for  a  bloody  flag 
And  then  revived  to  be  thanked  by  gilt  generals, 
A  schoolboy  Shippy,  eating  the  big  boys'  lunch. 
It  was  his  totem.  He  visioned  that  Shippy  now, 
Reckless  Shippy  with  papers  sewed  in  his  boots, 
Slyly  carrying  fate  through  the  Rebel  lines 
To  some  bright  place  where— 

The  off  mule  stumbled  and  brayed. 
He  cursed  it  whimperingly  and  jerked  at  the  reins, 
While  his  heart  jerked,  too.  The  super-Shippy  was  gone. 
He  was  alone  and  scared  and  late  on  the  road. 
My  God,  but  he  was  scared  of  being  a  spy 
And  the  mute-faced  woman  in  Richmond  and  war  and  life! 
He  had  some  papers  sewn  in  his  boots  all  right 
And  they'd  look  at  the  papers  while  he  stood  sweating  before 


Crumple  them  up  and  bully  him  with  cross  speech, 
"Couldn't  you  even  find  out  where  Heth's  men  are? 
Can't  you  draw  a  map?  You  don't  know  about  Stonewall  Jackson? 
Why  don't  you  know  it?  What's  this  ford  by  the  church? 
My  God,  man,  what  do  you  think  you  are  out  there  for? 
You'll  have  to  do  better  next  time,  I  can  tell  you  that. 
We'll  send  you  over  Route  7.  We  had  a  man  there, 
But  he's  been  reported  killed—" 

He  shuddered  in  vain, 

Seeing  a  rope  and  a  tree  and  a  dangling  weight 
And  the  mute-faced  woman  sending  a  paper  off 
In  somebody's  else's  boots,  and  somebody  saying 
In  an  ice-cream  voice  to  another  scared  little  man. 
"Next  time,  you'll  try  Route  7.  We  had  a  man  there, 
But  he's  been  reported  killed—" 

Oh,  there  is  a  hole 

Somewhere  deep  in  the  ground  where  the  rabbits  hide, 
But  I've  never  found  it— 

They  stuck  up  signs  and  a  flag 

And  it  was  war  and  you  went  and  got  scared  to  death 
By  the  roar  and  the  yells  and  the  people  trying  to  kill  you 
Till  anything  else  seemed  better— and  there  you  were, 
Driving  mules  with  papers  sewn  in  your  boots, 
But  people  still  wanting  to  kill  you— and  no  way  out. 
If  you  deserted,  the  mute-faced  woman  would  know 
And  that  would  be  the  worst-and  if  you  went  back, 
It  would  be  Bull  Run  and  yelling  and  all  that  blood 
When  it  made  you  sick  to  your  stomach.  Even  at  school 
You  always  had  to  fight.  There  was  no  way  out. 

Sophy  was  sweet  and  Sophy  was  a  good  girl 
And  Sophy  was  the  warm  earth  where  the  rabbits  hide 
Away  from  danger,  letting  their  hearts  go  slow, 
But  you  couldn't  stay  with  Sophy,  you  couldn't  stay, 
And  she'd  say  she'd  be  a  good  girl- 
but,  in  spite  of  himself, 
He  saw  a  big  boy  tearing  a  cardboard  box 
Apart,  with  greedy  hands,  in  a  bare  school-yard, 
Where  a  Shippy  whimpered— 

"Oh,  Soph,  I'll  get  you  the  scent, 
Honest  I  will!  Oh  God,  just  let  me  get  through, 
Just  this  one  time— and  I'll  pray—I'll  be  good— oh  God, 
Make  these  papers  something  they  want!" 

He  clucked  to  his  mules. 
Another  mile  and  he'd  be  out  on  the  pike 
And  pretty  safe  for  a  while. 

His  spirit  returned 

To  building  the  super-Shippy  from  dust  again. 
His  head  began  to  nod  with  the  sway  of  the  cart.  .  .  . 
Half  a  dozen  men  rode  out  from  a  little  clearing 
And  casually  blocked  the  road.  He  pulled  up  his  mules, 
Staring  around.  He  saw  a  face  that  he  knew, 
Now  queer  with  triumph— Sophy  filling  a  pail 
And  that  gangling  fellow  lounging  against  the  pump, 

It  happened  too  fast  to  be  scary. 

You  got  stopped  such  a  lot.  It  was  only  some  new  patrol. 
"All  the  boys  know  me,"  he  said.  "Yes,  I  got  my  pass." 
They  took  the  pass  but  they  did  not  give  it  back. 
There  was  a  waver  shaking  the  dusty  air, 


The  feel  of  a  cord  grown  tauter.  How  dry  his  throat  was! 
He'd  be  driving  on  in  a  minute.  "Well  boys?"  he  said, 
"Well,  fellers?" 

They  didn't  answer  or  look  at  him. 
"I  tell  you  that's  the  man,"  said  the  mountaineer. 

The  sergeant-feller  looked  dubiously  at,  the  rest, 
Gentlemanly  he  looked  like,  a  nice  young  feller 
With  his  little  black  moustache  and  his  thin,  brown  face, 
He  wouldn't  do  anything  mean.  It  would  be  all  right. 
Another  man  was  paring  his  nails  with  a  knife, 
His  face  was  merry  and  reckless— nice  feller,  too, 
Feller  to  stand  you  a  drink  and  talk  gay  with  the  girls, 
Not  anybody  to  hurt  you  or  twist  your  wrist. 
They  were  all  nice  fellers  except  for  the  mountaineer. 

They  were  searching  him  now,  but  they  didn't  do  it  mean. 
He  babbled  to  them  all  through  it. 

"Now  boys,  now  boys, 

You're  making  a  big  mistake,  boys.  They  all  know  me, 
They  all  know  Charley  the  peddler." 

The  sergeant  looked 

Disgusted  now— wonder  why.  Go  ahead  and  look, 
You'll  never  find  it— Sophy— bottle  of  scent— 

A  horrible  voice  was  saying,  "Pull  off  his  boots," 
He  fought  like  a  frightened  rat  then,  weeping  and  biting, 
But  they  got  him  down  and  found  the  papers  all  right. 
Luke  Breckinridge  observed  them  with  startled  eyes, 
"Christ,"  he  thought,  "so  the  skunk's  a  spy  after  all. 
Well,  I  told  'em  so— but  I  didn't  reckon  he  was. 
Little  feist  of  a  peddler,  chasin'  my  girl, 
Wanted  to  scare  him  off  so  he  wouldn't  come  back- 
Hell,  they  ought  to  make  me  a  corporal  now." 
He  was  pleased. 

Clay  Wingate  looked  at  the  writhing  man, 
"Get  up!"  he  said,  in  a  hard  voice,  feeling  sick. 
But  they  had  to  drag  it  up  before  it  would  stand 
And  even  then  it  still  babbled. 

His  throat  was  dry 

But  that  was  all  right— it  was  going  to  be  all  right- 
He  was  alive— he  was  Shippy— he  knew  a  girl— 


He  was  going  to  buy  her  a  bottle  of  first-class  scent 

It  couldn't  all  stop.  He  wasn't  ready  to  die. 

He  was  willing  enough  to  be  friends  and  call  it  a  joke. 

Let  them  take  the  mules  and  the  cart  and  hurt  him  a  lot 

Only  not  that— it  was  other  spies  who  were  hung, 

Not  himself,  not  Shippy,  not  the  body  he  knew 

With  the  live  blood  running  through  it,  making  it  warm. 

He  was  real.  He  wore  clothes.  He  could  make  all  this  go  away 

If  he  shut  his  eyes.  They'd  turn  him  loose  in  a  minute. 

They  were  all  nice  fellers.  They  wouldn't  treat  a  man  mean. 

They  couldn't  be  going  to  hang  him. 

But  they  were. 

Lucy  Weatherby  spread  out  gowns  on  a  bed 
And  wondered  which  she  could  wear  to  the  next  levee. 
The  blue  was  faded,  the  rose  brocade  had  a  tear, 
She'd  worn  the  flowered  satin  a  dozen  times, 
The  apricot  had  never  gone  with  her  hair, 
And  somebody  had  to  look  nice  at  the  evening  parties. 
But  it  was  hard.  The  blockade  runners  of  course- 
But  so  few  of  them  had  space  for  gowns  any  more 
And,  really,  they  charged  such  prices! 

Of  course  it  is 
The  war,  and,  of  course,  when  one  thinks  of  our  dear,  brave 


But,  nevertheless,  they  like  a  girl  to  look  fresh 
When  they  come  back  from  their  fighting. 

When  one  goes  up 

To  the  winter-camps,  it  doesn't  matter  so  much, 
Any  old  rag  will  do  for  that  sort  of  thing. 
But  here,  in  Richmond  .  .  . 

She  pondered,  mentally  stitching, 
Cutting  and  shaping,  tost  in  a  pleasant  dream. 

Fighting  at  Chancellors vple  and  Hooker  beaten 
And  nobody  killed  that  you  knew  so  terribly  well 
Except  Jo  Frear's  second  brother—though  it  was  sad 
Our  splendid  general  Jackson's  lost  his  arm, 
Such  an  odd  man  but  so  religious. 

She  hummed  a  moment 


"That's  Stonewall  Jackson's  way"  in  her  clear  cool  voice. 
"I  really  should  have  trained  for  nursing,"  she  thought. 
She  heard  a  voice  say.  "Yes,  the  General's  very  ill, 
But  that  lovely  new  nurse  will  save  him  if  anyone  can. 
She  came  out  from  Richmond  on  purpose." 

The  voice  stopped  speaking. 
She  thought  of  last  month  and  the  boys  and  the  Black  Horse 


And  the  haggard  little  room  in  Pollet's  Hotel 
Whose  slipshod  chambermaid  had  such  scared,  round  eyes. 
She  was  just  as  glad  they  were  fighting  now,  after  all, 
Hugcr  had  been  so  jealous  and  Clay  so  wild, 
It  was  quite  a  strain  to  be  engaged  to  them  both 
Especially  when  Jim  Merrihew  kept  on  writing 
And  that  nice  Alabama  major- 
She  heard  the  bells 

Ring  for  a  wedding— but  who  was  the  man  beside  her? 
He  had  a  face  made  up  of  too  many  faces. 
And  yet,  a  young  girl  must  marry— 

You  may  dance, 

Play  in  the  sun  and  wear  bright  gowns  to  levees, 
But  soon  or  late,  the  hands  unlike  to  your  hands 
But  rough  and  seeking,  will  catch  your  lightness  at  last 
And  with  strange  passion  force  you.  What  is  this  passion. 
This  injury  that  women  must  bear  for  gowns? 
It  does  not  move  me  or  stir  me.  I  will  not  bear  it. 
There  are  women  enough  to  bear  it.  If  1  have  sweetness, 
It  is  for  another  service.  It  is  my  own. 
I  will  not  share  it.  I'll  play  in  the  heat  of  the  sun. 
And  yet,  young  girls  must  marry— what  am  I  thinking? 

She  stepped  from  her  hoops  to  try  on  the  rose  brocade, 

But  let  it  lie  for  a  moment,  while  she  stood  up 

To  look  at  the  bright  ghost-girl  in  the  long  dark  mirror, 


"Oh,  you  honey,"  she  thought.  "You  honey! 
You  look  so  pretty— and  nobody  knows  but  me. 
Nobody  knows." 

She  kissed  her  little  white  shoulders, 
With  fierce  and  pitying  love  for  their  shining  whiteness, 
So  soft,  so  smooth,  so  untarnished,  so  honey-sweet. 
Her  eyes  were  veiled.  She  swayed  in  front  of  the  mirror. 


"Honey,  I  love  you,"  she  whispered,  "I  love  you,  honey. 
Nobody  loves  you  like  I  do,  do  they,  sugar? 
Nobody  knows  but  Lucy  how  sweet  you  are. 
You  mustn't  get  married,  honey.  You  mustn't  leave  me. 
We'll  be  pretty  and  sweet  to  all  of  them,  won't  we,  honey? 
We'll  always  have  beaus  to  dance  with  and  tunes  to  dance  to, 
But  you  mustn't  leave  me,  honey.  I  couldn't  bear  it. 
You  mustn't  ever  leave  me  for  any  man." 

In  the  dense. heart  of  the  thicketed  Wilderness, 

Stonewall  Jackson  lies  dying  for  four  long  days. 

They  have  cut  off  his  arm,  they  have  tried  such  arts  as  they  know, 

But  no  arts  now  can  save  him. 

When  he  was  hit 

By  the  blind  chance  bullet-spatter  from  his  own  lines, 
In  the  night,  in  the  darkness,  they  stole  him  off  from  the  field 
To  keep  the  men  from  knowing,  but  the  men  knew. 
The  dogs  in  the  house  will  know  when  there's  something  wrong. 
You  do  not  have  to  tell  them. 

He  marched  his  men 

That  grim  first  day  across  the  whole  Union  front 
To  strike  a  sleepy  right  wing  with  a  sudden  stone 
And  roll  it  up— it  was  his  old  trick  of  war 
That  Lee  and  he  could  play  like  finger  and  thumb! 
It  was  the  last  time  they  played  so. 

When  the  blue-coated 

Unprepared  ranks  of  Howard  saw  that  storm, 
Heralded  by  wild  rabbits  and  frightened  deer, 
Burst  on  them  yelling,  out  of  the  whispering  woods, 
They  could  not  face  it.  Some  men  died  where  they  stood, 
The  storm  passed  over  the  rest.  It  was  Jackson's  storm, 
It  was  his  old  trick  of  war,  for  the  last  time  played. 
He  must  have  known  1t.  He  loosed  it  and  drove  it  on, 
Hearing  the  long  yell  shake  like  an  Indian  cry 
Through  the  dense  black  oaks,  the  clumps  of  second-growth  pine, 
And  the  red  flags  reel  ahead  through  the  underbrush. 
It  was  the  hour  he  did  not  stop  to  taste, 
Being  himself.  He  saw  it  and  found  it  good, 
But  night  was  falling,  the  Union  centre  still  held, 
Another  attack  would  end  it.  He  pressed  ahead 


Through  the  dusk,  pushing  Little  Sorrel,  as  if  the  horse 
Were  iron,  and  he  were  iron,  and  all  his  men 
Not  men  but  iron,  the  stalks  of  an  iron  broom 
Sweeping  a  dire  floor  clean-and  vet,  as  he  rode, 
A  canny  captain,  planning  a  ruthless  chess 
Skilfully  as  night  fell.  The  night  fell  too  soon. 
It  is  hard  to  tell  your  friend  from  your  enemy 
In  such  a  night.  So  he  rode  too  far  in  advance 
And,  turning  back  toward  his  lines,  unrecognized, 
Was  fired  upon  in  the  night,  in  the  stumbling  darkness, 
By  his  own  men.  He  had  ridden  such  rides  before 
Often  enough  and  taken  the  chance  of  them, 
But  this  chance  was  his  bane. 

He  lay  on  the  bed 

After  the  arm  had  been  lopped  from  him,  grim  and  silent, 
Refusing  importunate  Death  with  terrible  eyes. 
Death  was  a  servant  and  Death  was  a  sulky  dog 
And  Death  crouched  down  by  the  Lord  in  the  Lord's  own  time, 
But  he  still  had  work  to  finish  that  Death  would  spoil. 
He  would  live  in  spite  of  that  servant. 

Now  and  then 

He  spoke,  with  the  old  curt  justice  that  never  once 
Denied  himself  or  his  foe  or  any  other 
The  rigid  due  they  deserved,  as  he  saw  that  due. 
He  spoke  of  himself  and  his  storm.  "A  successful  movement. 
I  think  the  most  successful  I  ever  made." 
—He  had  heard  that  long  veil  shake  like  an  Indian  cry 
Through  the  ragged  wooas  and  seen  his  flags  go  ahead. 
Later  on,  they  brought  him  a  stately  letter  from  Lee 
That  said  in  Lee's  gracious  way,  "You  have  only  lost 
Your  left  arm,  I  my  right." 

The  dour  mouth  opened. 

"Better  ten  Jacksons  should  fall  than  one  Lee,"  it  said 
And  closed  again,  while  the  heart  went  on  with  its  task 
Of  beating  off  foolish,  unnecessary  Death. 

The  slow  time  wore.  They  had  to  tell  him  at  last 
That  he  must  die.  The  doctors  were  brave  enough, 
No  doubt,  but  they  looked  awhile  at  the  man  on  the  bed 
And  summoned  his  wife  to  do  it.  So  she  told  him. 
He  would  not  believe  at  first.  Then  he  lay  awhile 
Silent,  while  some  slow,  vast  reversal  of  skies 

Went  on  in  the  dying  brain.  At  last  he  spoke. 
"All  right,"  he  said. 

She  opened  the  Bible  and  read. 
It  was  Spring  outside  the  window,  the  air  was  warm, 
The  rough,  plank  house  was  full  enough  of  the  Spring. 
They  had  had  a  good  life  together,  those  two  middle-aged 
Calm  people,  one  reading  aloud  now,  the  other  silent. 
They  haa  passed  hard  schools.  They  were  in  love  with  each  other 
And  had  been  for  many  years.  Now  that  tale  was  told. 
They  had  been  poor  and  odd,  found  each  other  trusty, 
Begotten  children,  prayed,  disliked  to  be  parted, 
Had  family-jokes,  known  weather  and  other  matters, 
Planned  for  an  age:  they  were  famous  now,  he  was  dying. 

The  clock  moved  on,  the  delirium  began. 
The  watchers  listened,  trying  to  catch  the  words; 
Some  awed,  one  broken-hearted,  a  few,  no  doubt, 
Not  glad  to  be  there  precisely,  but  in  a  way 
Glad  that,  if  it  must  happen,  they  could  be  there. 
It  is  a  human  emotion. 

The  dying  man 

Went  back  at  first  to  his  battles,  as  soldiers  do. 
He  was  pushing  a  new  advance 

With  the  old  impatience  and  skill,  over  tangled  ground, 
A  cloudy  drive  that  did  not  move  as  he  willed 
Though  he  had  it  clear  in  his  mind.  They  were  slow  today. 
"Tell  A.  P.  Hill  to  push  them-push  the  attack- 
Get  up  the  guns!" 

The  cloudy  assault  dispersed. 
There  were  no  more  cannon.  The  ground  was  plain  enough  now. 

He  lay  silent,  seeing  it  so,  while  the  watchers  listened. 
He  had  been  dying  once,  but  that  was  a  dream. 
The  ground  was  plain  enough  now. 
He  roused  himself  and  spoke  in  a  different  voice. 
"Let  us  cross  the  river,"  he  said,  "and  rest  under  the  shade  of 
the  trees." 



They  came  on  to  fish-hook  Gettysburg  in  this  way,  after  this 

Over  hot  pikes  heavy  with  pollen,  past  fields  where  the  wheat 

was  high. 

Peaches  grew  in  the  orchards;  it  was  a  fertile  country, 
Full  of  red  barns  and  fresh  springs  and  dun,  deep-uddered  kine. 

A  farmer  lived  with  a  clear  stream  that  ran  through  his  very 

They  cooled  the  butter  in  it  and  the  milk,  in  their  wide,  stone 


A  dusty  Georgian  came  there,  to  eat  and  go  on  to  battle; 
They  dipped  the  milk  from  the  jars,  it  was  cold  and  sweet  in 

his  mouth. 

He  heard  the  clear  stream's  music  as  the  German  housewife 

served  him, 

Remembering  the  Shenandoah  and  a  stream  poured  from  a  rock; 
He  ate  and  drank  and  went  on  to  the  gunwheels  crushing  the 

It  was  a  thing  he  remembered  as  long  as  any  guns. 

Country  of  broad-backed  horses,  stone  houses  and  long,  green 

Where  Getty  came  with  his  ox-team  to  found  a  steady  town 

And  the  little  trains  of  my  boyhood  puffed  solemnly  up  the 

Past  the  market-squares  and  the  lindens  and  the  Quaker  meeting- 

Penn  stood  under  his  oak  with  a  painted  sachem  beside  him, 
The  market-women  sold  scrapple  when  the  first  red  maples 

When  the  buckeyes  slipped  from  their  sheaths,  you  could  gather 

a  pile  of  buckeyes, 
Red-brown  as  old  polished  boots,  good  to  touch  and  hold  in  the 


The  ice-cream  parlor  was  papered  with  scenes  from  Paul  and 


The  pigs  were  fat  all  year,  you  could  stand  af  spoon  in  the  cream. 
— Penn  stood  under  his  oak  with  a  feathered  pipe  in  his  fingers, 
His  eyes  were  quiet  with  God,  but  his  wits  and  his  bargain  sharp. 

So  I  remember  it  all,  and  the  light  sound  of  buckeyes  falling 
On  the  worn  rose-bricks  of  the  pavement,  herring-boned,  trodden 

for  years; 
The  great  yellow  shocks  of  wheat  and  the  dust-white  road 

through  Summer, 
And,  in  Fall,  the  green  walnut  shells,  and  the  stain  they  left  for 

a  while. 

So  I  remember  you,  ripe  country  of  broad-backed  horses, 
Valley  of  cold,  sweet  springs  and  dairies  with  limestone-floors; 
And  so  they  found  you  that  year,  when  they  scared  your  cows 

with  their  cannon, 
And  the  strange  South  moved  against  you,  lean  marchers  lost 

in  the  corn. 

Two  months  have  passed  since  Jackson  died  in  the  woods 
And  they  brought  his  body  back  to  the  Richmond  State  House 
To  lie  there,  heaped  with  flowers,  while  the  bells  tolled,       < 
Two  months  of  feints  and  waiting. 

And  now,  at  length, 

The  South  goes  north  again  in  the  second  raid, 
In  the  last  cast  for  fortune. 

A  two-edged  chance 

And  yet  a  chance  that  may  burnish  a  failing  star; 
For  now,  on  the  wide  expanse  of  the  Western  board, 
Strong  pieces  that  fought  for  the  South  have  been  swept  away 
Or  penned  up  in  hollow  Vicksburg. 

One  cool  Spring  night 
Porter's  ironclads  rufl  the  shore-batteries 
Through  a  velvet  stabbed  with  hot  flashes. 

Grant  lands  his  men. 

Drives  the  relieving  force  of  Johnston  away 
And  sits  at  last  in  front  of  the  hollow  town 
Like  a  huge  brown  bear  on  its  haunches,  terribly  waiting. 
His  guns  begin  to  peck  at  the  pillared  porches, 
The  sleepy,  sun-spattered  streets.  His  siege  has  begun. 


Forty-eight  days  that  siege  and  those  guns  go  on 
Like  a  slow  hand  closing  around  a  hungry  throat, 
Ever  more  hungry. 

The  hunger  of  hollow  towns, 
The  hunger  of  sieges,  the  hunger  of  lost  hope. 
As  day  goes  by  after  day  and  the  shells  still  whine 
Till  the  town  is  a  great  mole-burrow  of  pits  and  caves 
Where  the  thin  women  hide  their  children,  where  the  tired  men 
Burrow  away  from  the  death  that  falls  from  the  air 
And  the  common  sky  turned  hostile—and  still  no  hope, 
Still  no  sight  in  the  sky  when  the  morning  breaks 
But  the  brown  bear  there  on  his  haunches,  steadfastly  waiting, 
Waiting  like  Time  for  the  honey-tree  to  fall. 

The  news  creeps  back  to  the  watchers  oversea. 
They  ponder  on  it,  aloof  and  irresolute. 
The  balance  they  watch  is  dipping  against  the  South. 
It  will  take  great  strokes  to  redress  that  balance  again. 
There  will  be  one  more  moment  of  shaken  scales 
When  the  Laird  rams  almost  alter  the  scheme  of  things, 
But  it  is  distant. 

The  watchers  stare  at  the  board 
Waiting  a  surer  omen  than  Chancellorsville 
Or  any  battle  won  on  a  Southern  ground. 

Lee  sees  that  dip  of  the  balance  and  so  prepares 

His  cast  for  the  surer  omen  and  his  last  stroke 

At  the  steel-bossed  Northern  shield.  Once  before  he  tried 

That  spear-rush  North  and  was  halted.  It  was  a  chance. 

This  is  a  chance.  He  weighs  the  chance  in  his  hand 

Like  a  stone,  reflecting. 

Four  years  from  Harper's  Ferry- 
Two  years  since  the  First  Manassas— and  this  last  year 
Stroke  after  stroke  successful— but  still  no  end. 

He  is  a  man  with  a  knotty  club  in  his  hand 
Beating  off  bulls  from  the  breaks  in  a  pasture  fence 
And  he  has  beaten  them  back  at  each  fresh  assault, 
McClellan— Burnside— Hooker  at  Chancellorsville— 
Pope  at  the  Second  Manassas— Banks  in  the  Valley— 
But  the  pasture  is  trampled;  his  army  needs  new  pasture. 
An  army  moves  like  a  locust,  eating  the  grain, 


And  this  grain  is  well-nigh  eaten.  He  cannot  mend 
The  breaks  in  his  fence  with  famine  or  starving  hands, 
And  if  he  waits  the  wheel  of  another  year 
The  bulls  will  come  back  full-fed,  shaking  sharper  horns 
While  he  faces  them  empty,  armed  with  a  hunger-cracked 
Unmagic  stick. 

There  is  only  this  thing  to  do, 

To  strike  at  the  shield  with  the  strength  that  he  still  can  use 
Hoping  to  burst  it  asunder  with  one  stiff  blow 
And  carry  the  war  up  North,  to  the  untouched  fields 
Where  his  tattered  men  can  feed  on  the  bulls'  own  grain, 
Get  shoes  and  clothes,  take  Washington  if  they  can, 
Hold  the  fighting-gauge  in  any  event. 

He  weighs 

The  chance  in  his  hand.  I  think  that  he  weighed  it  well 
And  felt  a  high  tide  risen  up  in  his  heart 
And  in  his  men  a  high  tide. 

They  were  veterans, 

They  had  never  been  beaten  wholly  and  blocked  but  once, 
He  had  driven  four  Union  armies  within  a  year 
And  broken  three  blue  commanders  from  their  command. 
Even  now  they  were  fresh  from  triumph. 

He  cast  his  stone 
Clanging  at  fortune,  and  set  his  fate  on  the  odds. 

Lincoln  hears  the  rumor  in  Washington. 
They  are  moving  North. 

The  Pennsylvania  cities 

Hear  it  and  shake,  they  arc  loose,  they  are  moving  North. 
Call  up  your  shotgun-militia,  bury  your  silver, 
Shoulder  a  gun  or  run  away  from  the  State, 
They  are  loose,  they  arg  moving. 

Fighting  Joe  Hooker  has  heard  it. 
He  swings  his  army  back  across  the  Potomac, 
Rapidly  planning,  while  Lee  still  visions  him  South. 
Stuart's  horse  should  have  brought  the  news  of  that  move 
But  Stuart  is  off  on  a  last  and  luckless  raid 
Far  to  the  East,  and  the  grey  host  moves  without  eyes 
Through  crucial  days, 

They  are  in  the  Cumberland  now, 


Taking  minor  towns,  feeding  fat  for  a  little  while, 

Pressing  horses  and  shoes,  paying  out  Confederate  bills 

To  slow  Dutch  storekeepers  who  groan  at  the  money. 

They  are  loose,  they  are  in  the  North,  they  are  here  and  there. 

Halleck  rubs  his  elbows  and  wonders  where, 

Lincoln  is  sleepless,  .the  telegraph-sounders  click 

In  the  War  Office  day  and  night. 

There  are  lies  and  rumors, 
They  are  only  a  mile  from  Philadelphia  now, 
They  are  burning  York—they  are  marching  on  Baltimore— 

Meanwhile,  Lee  rides  through  the  heart  of  the  Cumberland. 

Afgreat  hot  sunset  colors  the  marching  men, 

Colors  the  horse  and  the  sword  and  the  bearded  face 

But  cannot  change  that  face  from  its  strong  repose. 

And— miles  away— Joe  Hooker,  by  telegraph 

Calls  for  the  garrison  left  at  Harper's  Ferry 

To  join  him.  Elbow-rubbing  Halleck  refuses. 

Hooker  resigns  command— and  fades  from  the  East 

To  travel  West,  fight  keenly  at  Lookout  Mountain, 

Follow  Sherman's  inarch  as  far  as  Atlanta, 

Be  ranked  by  Howard,  and  tartly  resign  once  more 

Before  the  end  and  the  fame  and  the  Grand  Review, 

To  die  a  slow  death,  in  bed,  with  his  fire  gone  out, 

A  campfire  quenched  and  forgotten. 

He  deserved 

A  better  and  brusquer  end  that  marched  with  his  nickname, 
This  disappointed,  hot-tempered,  most  human  man 
Who  had  such  faith  in  himself  except  for  once, 
And  the  once,  being  Chancellorsville,  wiped  out  the  rest. 
He  was  often  touchy  and  life  was  touchy  with  him, 
But  the  last  revenge  was  a  trifle  out  of  proportion. 
Such  things  will  happen— Jackson  went  in  his  strength, 
Stuart  was  riding  his  horse  when  the  bullet  took  him, 
And  Custer  died  to  the  trumpet— Dutch  Longstreet  lived 
To  quarrel  and  fight  dead  battles.  Lee  passed  in  silence. 
McClellan  talked  on  forever  in  word  and  print. 
Grant  lived  to  be  President.  Thomas  died  sick  at  heart. 

So  Hooker  goes  from  our  picture— and  a  spent  aide 
Reaches  Meade's  hut  at  three  o'clock  in  the  morning 
To  wake  him  with  unexpected  news  of  command. 

The  thin  Pennsylvania!!  puts  on  his  spectacles 

To  read  the  order.  Tall,  sad-faced  and  austere, 

He  has  the  sharp,  long  nose  of  a  fighting-bird, 

A  prudent  mouth  and  a  cool,  considering  mind. 

An  iron-grey  man  with  none  of  Hooker's  panache, 

But  resolute  and  able,  well  skilled  in  war; 

They  call  him  "the  damned  old  goggle-eyed  snapping-turtle" 

At  times,  and  he  does  not  call  out  the  idol-shout 

When  he  rides  his  lines,  but  his  prudence  is  a  hard  prudence, 

And  can  last  out  storms  that  break  the  men  with  panache, 

Though  it  summons  no  counter-storm  when  the  storm  is  done. 

His  sombre  schoolmaster-eyes  read  the  order  well. 
It  is  three  days  before  the  battle. 

He  thinks  at  first 
Of  a  grand  review,  gives  it  up,  and  begins  to  act. 

That  morning  a  spy  brings  news  to  Lee  in  his  tent 
That  the  Union  army  has  moved  and  is  on  the  march. 
Lee  calls  back  Ewell  and  Early  from  their  forays 
And  summons  his  host  together  by  the  cross-roads 
Where  Getty  came  with  his  ox-cart. 

So  now  we  see 

These  two  crab-armies  fumbling  for  each  other, 
As  if  through  a  fog  of  rumor  and  false  report, 
These  last  two  days  of  sleepy,  hay-harvest  June. 
Hot  June  lying  asleep  on  a  shock  of  wheat 
Where  the  pollen-wind  blows  over  the  burnt-gold  stubble 
And  the  thirsty  men  march  past,  stirring  thick  grey  dust 
From  the  trodden  pikes— till  at  last,  the  crab-claws  touch 
At  Getty's  town,  and  clutch,  and  the  peaches  fall 
Cut  by  the  bullets,  splashing  under  the  trees. 

That  meeting  was  not  willed  by  a  human  mind, 
When  we  come^  to  sift  it. 

You  say  a  fate  rode  a  horse 
Ahead  of  those  lumbering  hosts,  and  in  either  hand 
He  carried  a  skein  of  omen.  And  when,  at  last, 
*  He  came  to  a  certain  umbrella-copse  of  trees 
That  never  had  heard  a  cannon  or  seen  dead  men, 
He  knotted  the  skeins  together  and  flung  them  down 
With  a  sound  like  metal. 


Perhaps.  It  may  have  been  so. 
All  that  we  know  is— Meade  intended  to  fight 
Some  fifteen  miles  away  on  the  Pipe  Creek  Line 
And  where  Lee  meant  to  fight  him,  if  forced  to  fight, 
We  do  not  know,  but  it  was  not  there  where  they  fought. 
Yet  the  riding  fate, 

Blind  and  deaf  and  a  doom  on  a  lunging  horse, 
Threw  down  his  skeins  and  gathered  the  battle  there. 

The  buttercup-meadows 
Are  very  yellow. 
A  child  comes  there 
To  fill  her  hands. 
The  gold  she  gathers 
Is  soft  and  precious 
As  sweet  new  butter 
Fresh  from  the  churn. 

She  fills  her  frock 
With  the  yellow  flowers, 
The  butter  she  gathers 
Is  smooth  as  gold, 
Little  bright  cups 
Of  new-churned  sunshine 
For  a  well-behaved 
Hoop-skirted  doll. 

Her  frock's  full 
And  her  hands  are  mothy 
With  yellow  pollen 
But  she  keeps  on. 
Down  by  the  fence 
They  are  even  thicker. 
She  runs,  bowed  down  with 

She  sees  a  road 
And  she  sees  a  rider. 
His  face  is  grey 
With  a  different  dust. 
He  talks  loud. 


He  rattles  like  tinware. 
He  has  a  long  sword 
To  kill  little  girls. 

He  shouts  at  her  now, 

But  she  does  not  answer. 

"Where  is  the  town?" 

But  she  will  not  hear. 

There  are  other  riders 

Jangling  behind  him. 

"We  won't  hurt  you,  youngster!" 

But  they  have  swords. 

The  buttercups  fall 
Like  spilt  butter. 
She  runs  away. 
She  runs  to  her  house. 
She  hides  her  face 
In  her  mother's  apron 
And  tries  to  tell  her 
How  dreadful  it  was. 

Buford  came  to  Gettysburg  late  that  night 

Riding  West  with  his  brigades  of  blue  horse, 

While  Pettigrew  and  his  North  Carolinians 

Were  moving  East  toward  the  town  with  a  wagon-train, 

Hoping  to  capture  shoes. 

The  two  came  in  touch. 

Pettigrew  halted  and  waited  for  men  and  orders. 
Buford  threw  out  his  pickets  beyond  the  town. 

The  next  morning  was  July  first.  It  was  hot  and  calm. 

On  the  grey  side,  Heth's  division  was  ready  to  march 

And  drive  the  blue  pickets  in.  There  was  still  no  thought 

Of  a  planned  and  decisive  battle  on  either  side 

Though  Buford  had  seen  the  strength  of  those  two  hill-ridges 

Soon  enough  to  be  famous,  and  marked  one  down 

As  a  place  to  rally  if  he  should  be  driven  back. 

He  talks  with  his  staff  in  front  of  a  tavern  now. 
An  officer  rides  up  from  the  near  First  Corps. 

"What  are  you  doing  here,  sir?" 

The  officer 

Explains.  He,  too,  has  come  there  to  look  for  shoes. 
—Fabulous  shoes  of  Gettysburg,  dead  men's  shoes, 
Did  anyone  ever  wear  you,  when  it  was  done, 
When  the  men  were  gone,  when  the  farms  were  spoiled  with  the 


What  became  of  your  nails  and  leather?  The  swords  went  home, 
The  swords  went  into  museums  and  neat  glass  cases, 
The  swords  look  well  there.  They  are  clean  from  the  war. 
You  wouldn't  put  old  shoes  in  a  neat  glass  case, 
Still  stuck  with  the  mud  of  marching. 

And  yet,  a  man 

With  a  taste  for  such  straws  and  fables,  blown  by  the  wind, 
Might  hide  a  pair  in  a  labelled  case  sometime 
Just  to  see  how  the  leather  looked,  set  down  by  the  swords. 

The  officer  is  hardly  through  with  his  tale 
When  Buford  orders  him  back  to  his  command. 
"Why,  what  is  the  matter,  general?" 

As  he  speaks 

The  far-off  hollow  slam  of  a  single  gun 
Breaks  the  warm  stillness.  The  horses  prick  up  their  ears. 
"That's  the  matter,"  says  Buford  and  gallops  away. 

Jake  Diefer,  the  barrel-chested  Pennsylvanian, 
Marched  toward  Getty's  town  past  orderly  fences, 
Thinking  of  harvest. 

The  boy  was  growing  up  strong 

And  the  corn-haired  woman  was  smart  at  managing  things 
But  it  was  a  shame  what  you  had  to  pay  hired  men  now 
Though  they'd  had  good  crops  last  year  and  good  prices  too. 
The  crops  looked  pretty  this  summer. 

He  stared  at  the  long 

Gold  of  the  wheat  reflectively,  weighing  it  all, 
Turning  it  into  money  and  cows  and  taxes, 
A  new  horse-reaper,  some  first-class  paint  for  the  barn, 
Maybe  a  dress  for  the  woman. 

His  thoughts  were  few, 
But  this  one  tasted  rough  and  good  in  his  mouth 

Like  a  spear  of  rough,  raw  grain.  He  crunched  at  it  now. 
—And  yet,  that  wasn't  all,  the  paint  and  the  cash, 
They  were  the  wheat  but  the  wheat  was—he  didn't  know- 
But  it  made  you  feel  good  to  see  some  good  wheat  again 
And  see  it  grown  up  proper. 

He  wasn't  a  man 

To  cut  a  slice  of  poetry  from  a  farm. 
He  liked  the  kind  of  manure  that  he  knew  about 
And  seldom  burst  into  tears  when  his  horses  died 
Or  found  a  beautiful  thought  in  a  bumble-bee, 
But  now,  as  he  tramped  along  like  a  laden  steer, 
The  tall  wheat,  rustling,  filled  his  heart  with  its  sound. 

Look  at  that  column  well,  as  it  passes  by, 

Remembering  Bull  Run  and  the  cocksfeather  hats, 

The  congressmen,  the  raw  militia  brigades 

Who  went  to  war  with  a  flag  and  a  haircloth  trunk 

In  bright  red  pants  and  ideals  and  ignorance, 

Ready  to  fight  like  picture-postcard  boys 

While  fighting  still  had  banners  and  a  sword 

And  just  as  ready  to  run  in  blind  mob-panic.  .  .  . 

These  men  were  once  those  men.  These  men  are  the  soldiers, 

Good  thieves,  good  fighters,  excellent  foragers, 

The  grumbling  men  who  dislike  to  be  killed  in  war 

And  yet  will  hold  when  the  raw  militia  break 

And  live  where  the  raw  militia  needlessly  die, 

Having  been  schooled  to  that  end. 

The  school  is  not 

A  pretty  school.  They  wear  no  cocksfeather  hats. 
Some  men  march  in  their  drawers  and  their  stocking  feet. 
They  have  handkerchiefs  round  their  heads,  they  are  footsore 

and  chafed, 
Their  faces  are  sweaty  leather. 

And  when  they  pass 

The  little  towns  where  the  people  wish  them  godspeed, 
A  few  are  touched  by  the  cheers  and  the  crying  women 
But  most  have  seen  a  number  of  crying  women, 
And  heard  a  number  of  cheers. 

The  ruder  yell  back 

To  the  sincere  citizens  cool  in  their  own  front  yards, 
"Aw,  get  a  gun  and  fight  for  your  home  yourself !" 
They  grin  and  fall  silent.  Nevertheless  they  go  on. 


Jake  Diefer,  the  barrel-chested  Pennsylvanian, 

The  steer-thewed,  fist-plank-splitter  from  Cumberland, 

Came  through  the  heat  and  the  dust  and  the  mounting  roar 

That  'could  not  drown  the  rustle  of  the  tall  wheat 

Making  its  growing  sound,  its  windrustled  sound, 

In  his  heart  that  sound,  that  brief  and  abiding  sound, 

To  a  fork  and  a  road  he  knew. 

And  then  he  heard 

That  mixed,  indocile  noise  of  combat  indeed 
And  as  if  it  were  strange  to  him  when  it  was  not  strange. 
—He  never  took  much  account  of  the  roads  they  went, 
They  were  always  going  somewhere  and  roads  were  roads. 
But  he  knew  this  road. 

He  knew  its  turns  and  its  hills, 

And  what  ploughlands  lay  beyond  it,  beyond  the  town, 
On  the  way  to  Chambersburg. 

He  saw  with  wild  eyes 

Not  the  road  before  him  or  anything  real  at  all 
But  grey  men  in  an  unreal  wheatfield,  tramping  it  down, 
Filling  their  tattered  hats  with  the  ripe,  rough  grain 
While  a  shell  burst  over  a  barn. 

"Grasshoppers!"  he  said 

Through  stiff  dry  lips  to  himself  as  he  tried  to  gauge 
That  mounting  roar  and  its  distance. 

"The  Johnnies  is  there! 
The  Johnnies  and  us  is  fighting  in  Gettysburg, 
There  must  be  Johnnies  back  by  the  farm  already, 
By  Jesus,  those  damn  Johnnies  is  on  my  farm!" 

That  battle  of  the  first  day  was  a  minor  battle 
As  such  are  counted. 

That  is,  it  killed  many  men. 

Killed  more  than  died  at  Bull  Run,  left  thousands  stricken 
With  wounds  that  time  might  heal  for  a  little  while 
Or  never  heal  till  the  breath  was  out  of  the  flesh. 
The  First  Corps  lost  half  its  number  in  killed  and  wounded. 
The  pale-faced  women,  huddled  behind  drawn  blinds 
Back  in  the  town,  or  in  apple-cellars,  hiding, 
Thought  it  the  end  of  the  world,  no  doubt. 

And  yet, 


As  the  books  remark,  it  was  only  a  minor  battle. 
There  were  only  two  corps  engaged  on  the  Union  side, 
Longstreet  had  not  yet  come  up,  nor  Ewell's  whole  force, 
Hill's  corps  lacked  a  division  till  evening  fell. 
It  was  only  a  minor  battle. 

When  the  first  shot 

Clanged  out,  it  was  fired  from  a  clump  of  Union  vedettes 
Holding  a  farm  in  the  woods  beyond  the  town. 
The  farmer  was  there  to  hear  it—and  then  to  see 
The  troopers  scramble  back  on  their  restless  horses 
And  go  off,  firing,  as  a  grey  mass  came  on. 

He  must  have  been  a  peaceable  man,  that  farmer. 

It  is  said  that  he  died  of  what  he  had  heard  and  seen 

In  that  one  brief  moment,  although  no  bullet  came  near  him 

And  the  storm  passed  by  and  did  not  burst  on  his  farm. 

No  doubt  he  was  easily  frightened.  He  should  have  reflected 

That  even  minor  battles  are  hardly  the  place 

For  peaceable  men—but  he  died  instead,  it  is  said. 

There  were  other  deaths  that  day,  as  of  Smiths  and  Clancys, 

Otises,  Boyds,  Virginia  and  Pennsylvania, 

New  York,  Carolina,  Wisconsin,  the  gathered  West, 

The  tattered  Southern  marchers  dead  on  the  wheat-shocks. 

Among  these  deaths  a  few  famous. 

Reynolds  is  dead, 

The  model  soldier,  gallant  and  courteous, 
Shot  from  his  saddle  in  the  first  of  the  fight. 
He  was  Doubleday's  friend,  but  Doubleday  has  no  time 
To  grieve  him,  the  Union  right  being  driven  in 
And  Heth's  Confederates  pressing  on  toward  the  town. 
He  holds  the  onrush  back  till  Howard  comes  up 
And  takes  command  for  a  while. 

The  fighting  is  grim. 

Meade  has  heard  the  news.  He  sends  Hancock  up  to  the  field. 
Hancock  takes  command  in  mid-combat.  The  grey  comes  on. 
Five  color-bearers  are  killed  at  one  Union  color, 
The  last  man,  dying,  still  holds  up  the  sagging  flag. 
The  pale-faced  women  creeping  out  of  their  nouses, 
Plead  with  retreating  bluecoats,  "Don't  leave  us  boys, 
Stay  with  us—hold  the  town."  Their  faces  are  thin, 
Their  words  come  tumbling  out  of  a  frightened  mouth. 
In  a  field,  far  off,  a  peaceable  farmer  puts 

His  hands  to  his  ears,  still  hearing  that  one  sharp  shot 
That  he  will  hear  and  hear  till  he  dies  of  it. 
It  is  Hill  and  Ewell  now  against  Hancock  and  Howard 
And  a  confused,  wild  clamor— and  the  high  keen 
Of  the  Rebel  yell— and  the  shrill-edged  bullet  song 
Beating  down  men  and  grain,  while  the  sweaty  fighters 
Grunt  as  they  ram  their  charges  with  blackened  hands. 

Till  Hancock  and  Howard  arc  beaten  away  at  last, 
Outnumbered  and  outflanked,  clean  out  of  the  town, 
Retreating  as  best  they  can  to  a  fish-hook  ridge, 
And  the  clamor  dies  and  the  sun  is  going  down 
And  the  tired  men  think  about  food. 

The  dust-bitten  staff 

Of  Ewell,  riding  along  through  the  captured  streets, 
Hear  the  thud  of  a  bullet  striking  their  general 
Flesh  or  bone?  Death-wound  or  rub  of  the  game? 
"The  general's  hurt!"  They  gasp  and  volley  their  questions. 
Ewell  turns  his  head  like  a  bird,  "No,  I'm  not  hurt,  sir, 
But,  supposing  the  ball  had  struck  you,  General  Gordon, 
We'd  have  the  trouble  of  carrying  you  from  the  field. 
You  can  see  how  much  better  fixed  for  a  fight  I  am. 
It  don't  hurt  a  mite  to  be  shot  in  your  wooden  leg." 

So  it  ends.  Lee  comes  on  the  field  in  time  to  see 

The  village  taken,  the  Union  wave  in  retreat. 

Meade  will  not  reach  the  ground  till  one  the  next  morning. 

So  it  ends,  this  lesser  battle  of  the  first  day, 
Starkly  disputed  and  piecemeal  won  and  lost 
By  corps-commanders  who  carried  no  magic  plans 
Stowed  in  their  sleeves,  but  fought  and  held  as  they  could. 
It  is  past.  The  board  is  staked  for  the  greater  game 
Which  is  to  follow— The  beaten  Union  brigades 
Recoil  from  the  cross-roads  town  that  they  tried  to  hold. 
And  so  recoiling,  rest  on  a  destined  ground. 
Who  chose  that  ground? 

There  are  claimants  enough  in  the  book 
Howard  thanked  by  Congress  for  choosing  it 
As  doubtless,  they  would  have  thanked  him  as  well  had  he 


Chosen  another,  once  the  battle  was  won, 

And  there  are  a  dozen  ifs  on  the  Southern  side, 

How,  in  that  first  day's  evening,  if  one  had  known, 

If  Lee  had  been  there  in  time,  if  Jackson  had  lived, 

The  heights  that  cost  so  much  blood  in  the  vain  attempt 

To  take  days  later,  could  have  been  taken  then. 

And  the  ifs  and  the  thanks  and  the  rest  are  all  true  enough 

But  we  can  only  say,  when  we  look  at  the  board, 

'There  it  happened  There  is  the  way  of  the  land. 

There  was  the  fate,  and  there  the  blind  swords  were  crossed." 

You  took  a  carriage  to  that  battlefield. 

Now,  I  suppose,  you  take  a  motor-bus, 

But  then,  it  was  a  carriage—and  you  ate 

Fried  chicken  out  of  wrappings  of  waxed  paper, 

While  the  slow  guide  buzzed  on  about  the  war 

And  the  enormous,  curdled  summer  clouds 

Piled  up  like  giant  cream  puffs  in  the  blue. 

The  carriage  smelt  of  axle-grease  and  leather 

And  the  old  horse  nodded  a  sleepy  head 

Adorned  with  a  straw  hat.  His  ears  stuck  through  it. 

It  was  the  middle  of  hay-fever  summer 

And  it  was  hot.  And  you  could  stand  and  look 

All  the  way  down  from  Cemetery  Ridge, 

Much  as  it  was,  except  for  monuments 

And  startling  groups  of  monumental  men 

Bursting  in  bronze  and  marble  from  the  ground, 

And  all  the  curious  names  upon  the  gravestones.  .  .  , 

So  peaceable  it  was,  so  calm  and  hot, 
So  tidy  and  great-skied. 

No  men  had  fought 
There  but  enormous,  monumental  men 
Who  bled  neat  streams  of  uncorrupting  bronze, 
Even  at  the  Round  Tops,  even  by  Pickett's  boulder, 
Where  the  bronze,  open  book  could  still  be  read 
By  visitors  and  sparrows  and  the  wind: 
And  the  wind  came,  the  wind  moved  in  the  grass, 
Saying  . . .  while  the  long  light . . .  and  all  so  calm  . . 


"Pickett  came 
And  the  South  came 
And  the  end  came, 
And  the  grass  comes 
And  the  wind  blows 
On  the  bronze  book 
On  the  bronze  men 
On  the  grown  grass, 
And  the  wind  says 
'Long  ago 

Then  it  was  time  to  buy  a  paperweight 

With  flags  upon  it  in  decalcomania 

And  hope  you  wouldn't  break  it,  driving  home. 

Draw  a  clumsy  fish-hook  now  on  a  piece  of  paper, 
To  the  left  of  the  shank,  by  the  bend  of  the  curving  hook, 
Draw  a  Maltese  cross  with  the  top  block  cut  away. 
The  cross  is  the  town.  Nine  roads  star  out  from  it 
East,  West,  South,  North. 

And  now,  still  more  to  the  left 
Of  the  lopped-off  cross,  on  the  other  side  of  the  town, 
Draw  a  long,  slightly-wavy  line  of  ridges  and  hills 
Roughly  parallel  to  the  fish-hook  shank. 
(The  hook  of  the  fish-hook  is  turned  away  from  the  cross 
And  the  wavy  line.) 

There  your  ground  and  your  ridges  lie. 
The  fish-hook  is  Cemetery  Ridge  and  the  North 
Waiting  to  be  assaulted— the  wavy  line 
Seminary  Ridge  whence  the  Southern  assault  will  come. 

The  valley  between  is  more  than  a  mile  in  breadth. 
It  is  some  three  miles  from  the  lowest  jut  of  the  cross 
To  the  button  at  the  far  fcnd  of  the  fish-hook  shank, 
Big  Round  Top,  with  Little  Round  Top  not  far  away. 
Both  ridges  are  strong  and  rocky,  well  made  for  war. 
But  the  Northern  one  is  the  stronger  shorter  one. 
Lee's  army  must  spread  out  like  an  uncoiled  snake 


Lying  along  a  fence-rail,  while  Meade's  can  coil 
Or  halfway  coil,  like  a  snake  part  clung  to  a  stone. 
Meade  has  the  more  men  and  the  easier  shifts  to  make, 
Lee  the  old  prestige  of  triumph  and  his  tried  skill. 
His  task  is— to  coil  his  snake  round  the  other  snake 
Halfway  clung  to  the  stone,  and  shatter  it  so, 
Or  to  break  some  point  in  the  shank  of  the  fish-hook  line 
And  so  cut  the  snake  in  two. 

Meade's  task  is  to  hold. 

That  is  the  chess  and  the  scheme  of  the  wooden  blocks 
Set  down  on  the  contour  map. 

Having  learned  so  much, 
Forget  it  now,  while  the  ripple-lines  of  the  map 
Arise  into  bouldered  ridges,  tree-grown,  bird-visited, 
Where  the  'gnats  buzz,  and  the  wren  builds  a  hollow  nest 
And  the  rocks  are  grey  in  the  sun  and  black  in  the  rain, 
And  the  jacks-in-the-pulpit  grow  in  the  cool,  damp  hollows. 
See  no  names  of  leaders  painted  upon  the  blocks 
Such  as  "Hill,"  or  "Hancock,"  or  "Pendcr"- 

but  see  instead 

Three  miles  of  living  men— three  long  double  miles 
Of  men  and  guns  and  horses  and  fires  and  wagons, 
Teamsters,  surgeons,  generals,  orderlies, 
A  hundred  and  sixty  thousand  living  men 
Asleep  or  eating  or  thinking  or  writing  brief 
Notes  in  the  thought  of  death,  shooting  dice  or  swearing, 
Groaning  in  hospital  wagons,  standing  guard 
While  the  slow  stars  walk  through  heaven  in  silver  mail, 
Hearing  a  stream  or  a  joke  or  a  horse  cropping  grass 
Or  hearing  nothing,  being  too  tired  to  hear. 
All  night  till  the  round  sun  comes  and  the  morning  breaks, 
Three  double  miles  of  live  men. 
Listen  to  them,  their  breath  goes  up  through  the  night 
In  a  great  chord  of  life,  in  the  sighing  murmur 
Of  wind-stirred  wheat. 

A  hundred  and  sixty  thousand 
Breathing  men,  at  night,  on  two  hostile  ridges  set  down. 

Jack  Ellyat  slept  that  night  on  the  rocky  ground 
Of  Cemetery  Hill  while  the  cold  stars  marched, 


And  if  his  bed  was  harder  than  Jacob's  stone 
Yet  he  could  sleep  on  it  now  and  be  glad  for  sleep. 

He  had  been  through  Chancellorsville  and  the  whistling  wood, 
He  had  been  through  this  last  day.  It  is  well  to  sleep 
After  such  days. 

He  had  seen,  in  the  last  four  months, 
Many  roads,  much  weather  and  death,  and  two  men  fey 
Before  they  died  with  the  prescience  of  death  to  come, 
John  Haberdeen  and  the  corporal  from  Millerstown. 
Such  things  are  often  remembered  even  in  sleep. 
He  thought  to  himself,  before  he  lay  on  the  ground, 
"We  got  it  hot  today  in  that  red-brick  town 
But  we'll  get  it  hotter  tomorrow." 

And  when  he  woke 

And  saw  the  round  sun  risen  in  the  clear  sky, 
He  could  feel  that  thought  steam  up  from  the  rocky  ground 
And  touch  each  man. 

One  man  looked  down  from  the  hill, 

"That  must  be  their  whole  damn  army/'  he  said  and  whistled, 
"It'll  be  a  picnic  today,  boys.  Yes,  it'll  be 
A  regular  basket-picnic."  He  whistled  again. 

"Shut  your  trap  about  picnics,  Ace,"  said  another  man, 
"You  make  me  too  damn  hungry!" 

He  sighed  out  loud. 

"We  had  enough  of  a  picnic  at  Chancellorsville," 
He  said.  "I  ain't  felt  right  in  my  stummick  since. 
Can  you  make  'em  out?" 

"Sure,"  said  Ace,  "but  they're  pretty  far." 

"Wonder  who  we'll  get?  That  bunch  we  got  yesterday 
Was  a  mean-shootin'  bunch." 

"Now  don't  you  worry,"  said  Ace, 
"We'll  get  plenty." 

The  other  man  sighed  again. 
"Did  you  see  that  darky  woman  selling  hot  pies, 
Two  days  ago,  on  the  road?"  he  said,  licking  his  lips, 
"Blackberry  pies.  The  boys  ahead  got  a  lot 
And  Jake  and  me  clubbed  together  for  three.  And  then 
Just  as  we  were  ready  to  make  the  sneak, 
Who  comes  up  with  a  roar  but  the  provost-guard? 


Did  we  get  any  pies?  I  guess  you  know  if  we  did. 

1  couldn't  spit  for  an  hour,  I  felt  so  mad. 

Next  war  I'm  goin'  to  be  provost-guard  or  bust." 

A  thin  voice  said  abruptly,  "They're  moving— lookit— 
They're  moving.  I  tell  you— lookit— " 

They  all  looked  then. 

A  little  crackling  noise  as  of  burning  thornsticks 
Began  far  away— ceased  wholly— began  again— 
"We  won't  get  it  awhile,"  thought  Ellyat.  "They're  trying  the 


We  won't  get  it  awhile,  but  we'll  get  it  soon. 
I  feel  funny  today.  I  don't  think  I'm  going  to  be  killed 
But  I  feel  runny.  That's  their  whole  army  all  right. 
I  wonder  if  those  other  two  felt  like  this, 
John  Haberdeen  and  the  corporal  from  Millerstown? 
What's  it  like  to  see  your  name  on  a  bullet? 
It  must  feel  queer.  This  is  going  to  be  a  big  one. 
The  Johnnies  know  it.  That  house  looks  pretty  down  there. 
Phaeton,  charioteer  in  your  drunken  car, 
What  have  you  got  for  a  man  that  carries  my  name? 
We're  a  damn  good  company  now,  if  we  say  it  ourselves, 
And  the  Old  Man  knows  it— but  this  one's  bound  to  be  tough. 
I  wonder  what  they're  feeling  like  over  there. 

Charioteer,  you  were  driving  yesterday, 

No  doubt,  but  I  did  not  see  you.  I  see  you  now. 

What  have  you  got  today  for  a  man  with  my  name?" 

The  firing  began  that  morning  at  nine  o'clock, 
But  it  was  three  before  the  attacks  were  launched. 
There  were  two  attacks,  one  a  drive  on  the  Union  left 
To  take  the  Round  Tops,  the  other  one  on  the  right. 
Lee  had  planned  them  to  strike  together  and,  striking  so, 
Cut  the  Union  snake  in  three  pieces. 

It  did  not  happen. 

On  the  left,  Dutch  Longstreet,  slow,  pugnacious  and  stubborn, 
Hard  to  beat  and  just  as  hard  to  convince, 
Has  his  own  ideas  of  the  battle  and  does  not  move 
For  hours  after  the  hour  that  Lee  had  planned, 
Though,  when  he  does,  he  moves  with  pugnacious  strength. 


Facing  him,  in  the  valley  before  the  Round  Tops, 
Sickles  thrusts  out  blue  troops  in  a  weak  right  angle, 
Some  distance  from  the  Ridge,  by  the  Emmettsburg  pike. 
There  is  a  peach  orchard  there,  a  field  of  ripe  wheat 
And  other  peaceable  things  soon  not  to  be  peaceful. 

They  say  the  bluecoats,  marching  through  the  ripe  wheat, 

Made  a  blue-and-yellow  picture  that  men  remember 

Even  now  in  their  age,  in  their  crack-voiced  age. 

They  say  the  noise  was  incessant  as  the  sound 

Of  all  wolves  howling,  when  that  attack  came  on. 

They  say,  when  the  guns  all  spoke,  that  the  solid  ground 

Of  the  rocky  ridges  trembled  like  a  sick  child. 

We  have  made  the  sick  earth  tremble  with  other  shakings 

In  our  timey  in  our  time,  in  our  time,  but  it  has  not  taught  us 

To  leave  the  grain  in  the  field. 

So  the  storm  came  on 
Yelling  against  the  angle. 

The  men  who  fought  there 

Were  the  tried  fighters,  the  hammered,  the  weather-beaten, 
The  very  hard-dying  men. 

They  came  and  died 

And  came  again  and  died  and  stood  there  and  died, 
Till  at  last  the  angle  was  crumpled  and  broken  in, 
Sickles  shot  down,  Willard,  Barlow  and  Semmes  shot  down, 
Wheatfield  and  orchard  bloody  and  trampled  and  taken, 
And  Hood's  tall  Texans  sweeping  on  toward  the  Round  Tops 
As  Hood  fell  wounded. 

On  Little  Round  Top's  height 
Stands  a  lonely  figure,  seeing  that  rush  come  on— 
Greek-mouthed  Warren,  Meade's  chief  of  engineers. 
—Sometimes,  and  in  battle  even,  a  moment  comes 
When  a  man  with  eyes  can  see  a  dip  in  the  scales 
And,  so  seeing,  reverse  a  fortune.  Warren  has  eyes 
And  such  a  moment  comes  to  him  now.  He  turns 
—In  a  clear  flash  seeing  the  crests  of  the  Round  Tops  taken, 
The  grey  artillery  there  and  the  battle  lost— 
And  rides  off  hell-for-leather  to  gather  troops 
And  bring  them  up  in  the  very  nick  of  time, 
While  the  grey  rush  still  advances,  keening  its  cry. 
The  crest  is  three  times  taken  and  then  retaken 
In  fierce  wolf-flurries  of  combat,  in  gasping  Iliads 


Too  rapid  to  note  or  remember,  too  obscure  to  freeze  in  a  song. 
But  at  last,  when  the  round  sun  drops,  when  the  nun-footed  night, 
Dark-veiled  walker,  holding  the  first  weak  stars 
Like  children  against  her  breast,  spreads  her  pure  cloths  there, 
The  Union  still  holds  the  Round  Tops  and  the  two  hard  keys  of 

Night  falls.  The  blood  drips  in  the  rocks  of  the  Devil's  Den. 
The  murmur  begins  to  rise  from  the  thirsty  ground 
Where  the  twenty  thousand  dead  and  wounded  lie. 
Such  was  Longstreet's  war,  and  such  the  Union  defence, 
The  deaths  and  the  woundings,  the  victory  and  defeat 
At  the  end  of  the  fish-hook  shank. 

And  so  Longstreet  failed 
Ere  Ewell  and  Early  struck  the  fish-hook  itself 
At  Gulp's  Hill  and  the  Ridge  and  at  Cemetery  Hill, 
With  better  fortune,  though  not  with  fortune  enough 
To  plant  hard  triumph  deep  on  the  sharp-edged  rocks 
And  break  the  scales  of  the  snake. 

When  that  last  attack 
Came,  with  its  cry,  Jack  Ellyat  saw  it  come  on. 

They  had  been  waiting  for  hours  on  that  hard  hill, 
Sometimes  under  fire,  sometimes  untroubled  by  shells. 
A  man  chewed  a  stick  of  grass  and  hummed  to  himself. 
Another  played  mumbledeypeg  with  a  worn  black  knife. 
Two  men  were  talking  girls  till  they  got  too  mad 
And  the  sergeant  stopped  them. 

Then  they  waited  again. 

Jack  Ellyat  waited,  hearing  that  other  roar 

Rise  and  fall,  be  distant  and  then  approach. 

Now  and  then  he  turned  on  his  side  and  looked  at  the  sky 

As  if  to  build  a  house  of  peace  from  that  blue, 

But  could  find  no  house  of  peace  there. 

Only  the  roar, 
The  slow  sun  sinking,  the  fey  touch  at  his  mind.  .  .  . 

He  was  lying  behind  a  tree  and  a  chunk  of  rock 

On  thick,  coarse,  grass.  Farther  down  the  slope  of  the  hill 


There  were  houses,  a  rough  stone  wall,  and  blue  loungy  men. 
Behind  them  lay  the  batteries  on  the  crest. 

He  wondered  if  there  were  people  still  in  the  houses. 
One  house  had  a  long,  slant  roof.  He  followed  the  slant 
Of  the  roof  with  his  finger,  idly,  pleased  with  the  line. 

The  shelling  burst  out  from  the  Southern  guns  again. 

Their  own  batteries  answered  behind  them.  He  looked  at  his 


While  the  shells  came  down.  I'd  like  to  live  in  that  house. 
Now  the  shelling  lessened. 

The  man  with  the  old  black  knife 
Shut  up  the  knife  and  began  to  baby  his  rifle. 
They're  coming,  Jack  thought.  This  is  it. 

There  was  an  abrupt 

Slight  stiffening  in  the  bodies  of  other  men, 
A  few  chopped  ends  of  words  scattered  back  and  forth, 
Eyes  looking,  hands  busy  in  swift,  well-accustomed  gestures. 
This  is  it.  He  felt  his  own  hands  moving  like  theirs 
Though  he  was  not  telling  them  to.  This  is  it.  He  felt 
The  old  familiar  tightness  around  his  chest. 
The  man  with  the  grass  chewed  his  stalk  a  little  too  hard 
And  then  suddenly  spat  it  out. 

Jack  Ellyat  saw 

Through  the  falling  night,  that  slight,  grey  fringe  that  was  war 
Coming  against  them,  not  as  it  came  in  pictures 
With  a  ruler-edge,  but  a  crinkled  and  smudgy  line 
Like  a  child's  vague  scrawl  in  soft  crayon,  but  moving  on 
But  with  its  little  red  handkerchiefs  of  flags 
Sagging  up  and  down,  here  and  there. 

It  was  still  quite  far, 

It  was  still  like  a  toy  attack— it  was  swallowed  now 
By  a  wood  and  came  out  larger  with  larger  flags. 
Their  own  guns  on  the  crest  were  trying  to  break  it  up 
—Smoking  sand  thrown  into  an  ant-legged  line- 
But  it  still  kept  on— one  fringe  and  another  fringe 
And  another  and— 

He  lost  them  all  for  a  moment 
[n  a  dip  of  ground. 

This  is  it,  he  thought  with  a  parched 
Mind.  It's  a  big  one.  They  must  be  yelling  all  right 


Though  you  can't  hear  them.  They're  going  to  do  it  this  time* 
Do  it  or  bust—you  can  tell  from  the  way  they  come— 
I  hope  to  Christ  that  the  batteries  do  their  job 
When  they  get  out  of  that  dip. 

Hell,  they've  lost  'em  now, 
And  they're  still  coming. 

He  heard  a  thin  gnat-shrieking 
"Hold  your  fire  till  they're  close  enough,  men!" 

The  new  lieutenant. 

The  new  lieutenant  looked  thin.  "Aw,  go  home,"  he  muttered, 
"We're  no  militia— What  do  you  think  we  are?" 

Then  suddenly,  down  by  his  house,  the  low  stone  wall 
Flashed  and  was  instantly  huge  with  a  wall  of  smoke. 
He  was  yelling  now.  He  saw  a  red  battleflag 
Push  through  smoke  like  a  prow  and  be  blotted  out 
By  smoke  and  flash. 

His  heart  knocked  hard  in  his  chest. 
"Do  it  or  bust,"  he  mumbled,  holding  his  fire 
While  the  rags  of  smoke  blew  off. 

He  heard  a  thick  chunk 

Beside  him,  turned  his  head  for  a  flicker  of  time. 
The  man  who  had  chewed  on  the  grass  was  injuredly  trying 
To  rise  on  his  knees,  his  face  annoyed  by  a  smile. 
Then  the  blood  poured  over  the  smile  and  he  crumpled  up. 
Ellyat  stretched  out  a  hand  to  touch  him  and  felt  the  hand 
Rasped  by  a  file. 

He  jerked  back  the  hand  and  sucked  it. 
"Bastards,"  he  said  in  a  minor  and  even  voice. 

All  this  had  occurred,  it  seemed,  in  no  time  at  all, 
But  when  he  turned  back,  the  smoky  slope  of  the  hill 
Was  grey— and  a  staggering  red  advancing  flag 
And  those  same  shouting  strangers  he  knew  so  well, 
No  longer  ants— but  there— and  stumblingly  running— 
And  that  high,  shrill,  hated  keen  piercing  all  the  flat  thunder. 

His  lips  went  back.  He  felt  something  swell  in  his  chest 
Like  a  huge,  indocile  bubble. 

"By  God,"  he  said, 

Loading  and  firing,  "You're  not  going  to  get  this  hill, 
You're  not  going  to  get  this  hill.  By  God,  but  you're  not!" 


He  saw  one  grey  man  spin  like  a  crazy  dancer 

And  another  fall  at  his  heels— but  the  hill  kept  growing  them. 

Something  made  him  look  toward  his  left. 

A  yellow-fanged  face 
Was  aiming  a  pistol  over  a  chunk  of  rock. 
He  fired  and  the  face  went  down  like  a  broken  pipe 
While  something  hit  him  sharply  and  took  his  breath. 
"Get  back,  you  suckers,"  he  croaked,  "Get  back  there,  you 

suckers! " 

He  wouldn't  have  time  to  load  now— they  were  too  near. 
He  was  up  and  screaming.  He  swung  his  gun  like  a  club 
Through  a  twilight  full  of  bright  stabbings,  and  felt  it  crash 
On  a  thing  that  broke.  He  had  no  breath  any  more. 
He  had  no  thoughts.  Then  the  blunt  fist  hit  him  again. 

He  was  down  in  the  grass  and  the  black  sheep  of  night  ran  over 
him  .  .  . 

That  day,  Melora  Vilas  sat  by  the  spring 

With  her  child  in  her  arms  and  felt  the  warm  wind  blow 

Ruffling  the  little  pool  that  had  shown  two  faces 

Apart  and  then  clung  together  for  a  brief  while 

As  if  the  mouths  had  been  silver  and  so  fused  there.  .  . . 

The  wind  blew  at  the  child's  shut  fists  but  it  could  not  open 

The  child  slept  well  The  child  was  a  strong,  young  child. 

"Wind,  you  have  blown  the  green  leaf  and  the  brown  leaf 
And  in  and  out  of  my  restless  heart  you  blow, 
Wakening  me  again. 

I  had  thought  for  a  while 

My  heart  was  a  child  and  could  sleep  like  any  child, 
But  now  that  the  wind  is  warm,  I  remember  my  lover, 
Must  you  blow  all  summer,  warm  wind?" 

"Divide  anew  this  once-divided  flesh 
Into  twelve  shares  of  mercy  and  on  each 
Bestow  a  fair  and  succourable  child, 
Yet,  in  full  summer,  when  the  ripened  stalks 
Bow  in  the  wind  like  golden-headed  men, 


Under  the  sun,  the  shares  will  reunite 
Into  unmerciful  and  childless  love." 

She  thought  again,  "No,  it's  not  that,  it's  not  that, 
I  love  my  child  with  an  'L'  because  he's  little, 
I  love  my  child  with  an  *S'  because  he's  strong. 
With  an  'M'  because  he's  mine. 

But  I'm  restless  now. 

We  cut  the  heart  on  the  tree  but  the  bark's  grown  back  there. 
I've  got  my  half  of  the  dime  but  I  want  his. 
The  winter-sleep  is  over." 

The  shadows  were  longer  now.  The  child  waked  and  cried. 
She  rocked  and  hushed  it,  feeling  the  warm  wind  blow. 
"I've  got  to  find  him,"  she  said. 

About  that  time,  the  men  rode  up  to  the  house 

From  the  other  way.  Their  horses  were  rough  and  wild. 

There  were  a  dozen  of  them  and  they  came  fast. 

Bent  should  have  been  out  in  the  woods  but  he  had  come  down 

To  mend  a  split  wagon-wheel.  He  was  caught  in  the  barn. 

They  couldn't  warn  him  in  time,  though  John  Vilas  tried, 

But  they  held  John  Vilas  and  started  to  search  the  place 

While  the  younger  children  scuttled  around  like  mice 

Squeaking  "It's  drafters,  Mom— it's  the  drafters  again!" 

Even  then,  if  Bent  had  hidden  under  the  hay 

They  might  not  have  found  him,  being  much  pressed  for  time, 

But  perhaps  he  was  tired  of  hiding. 

At  any  rate 

When  Melora  reached  the  edge  of  the  little  clearing, 
She  saw  them  there  and  Bent  there,  up  on  a  horse, 
Her  mother  rigid  as  wood  and  her  father  dumb 
And  the  head  man  saying,  gently  enough  on  the  whole, 
"Don't  you  worry,  ma'am— he'll  make  a  good  soldier  yet 
If  he  acts  proper.>r 

That  was  how  they  got  Bent. 

On  the  crest  of  the  hill,  the  sweaty  cannoneers, 

The  blackened  Pennsylvanians,  picked  up  their  rammers 

And  fought  the  charge  with  handspikes  and  clubs  and  stones. 


Biting  and  howling.  It  is  said  that  they  cried 

Wildly,  "Death  on  the  soil  of  our  native  state 

Rather  than  lose  our  guns."  A  general  says  so. 

He  was  not  there.  I  do  not  know  what  they  cried 

But  that  they  fought,  there  was  witness— and  that  the  grey 

Wave  that  came  on  them  fought,  there  was  witness  too. 

For  an  instant  that  wheel  of  combat— and  for  an  instant 

A  brief,  hard-breathing  hush. 

Then  came  the  hard  sound 

Of  a  tolumn  tramping— blue  reinforcements  at  last, 
A  doomsday  sound  to  the  grey. 

The  hard  column  came 

Over  the  battered  crest  and  went  in  with  a  yell. 
The  grey  charge  bent  and  gave  ground,  the  grey  charge  was 


The  sweaty  gunners  fell  to  their  guns  again 
And  began  to  scatter  the  shells  in  the  ebbing  wave. 

Thus  ended  the  second  day  of  the  locked  bull-horns 
And  the  wounding  or  slaying  of  the  twenty  thousand. 
And  thus  night  came  to  cover  it. 

So  the  field 

Was  alive  all  night  with  whispers  and  words  and  sighs, 
So  the  slow  blood  dripped  in  the  rocks  of  the  Devil's  Den. 
Lincoln,  back  in  his  White  House,  asks  for  news. 
The  War  Department  has  little.  There  are  reports     , 
Of  heavy  firing  near  Gettysburg— that  is  all. 
Davis,  in  Richmond,  knows  as  little  as  he. 
In  hollow  Vicksburg,  the  shells  come  down  and  come  down 
And  the  end  is  but  two  days  off. 

On  the  field  itself 

Meade  calls  a  council  and  considers  retreat. 
His  left  has  held  and  the  Round  Tops  still  are  his. 
But  his  right  has  been  shaken,  his  centre  pierced  for  a  time, 
The  enemy  holds  part  of  his  works  on  Gulp's  Hill, 
His  losses  have  been  most  stark. 

He  thinks  of  these  things 
And  decides  at  last  to  fight  it  out  where  he  stands. 

Ellyat  lay  upon  Cemetery  Hill. 
His  wounds  had  begun  to  burn. 


He  was  rising  up 

Through  cold  and  vacant  darknesses  into  faint  light, 
The  yellow,  watery  light  of  a  misty  moon. 
He  stirred  a  little  and  groaned. 

There  was  something  cool 

On  his  face  and  hands.  It  was  dew.  He  lay  on  his  back 
And  stared  at  a  blowing  cloud  and  a  moist,  dark  sky 
"Old  charioteer,"  he  thought. 

He  remembered  dully 

The  charge.  The  charge  had  come.  They  had  beaten  the  charge. 
Now  it  was  moist  dark  sky  and  the  dew  and  his  pain. 

He  tried  to  get  his  canteen  but  he  couldn't  reach  it. 
That  made  him  afraid. 

"I  want  some  water,"  he  said. 
He  turned  his  head  through  stiff  ages. 

Two  feet  away 

A  man  was  lying  quietly,  fast  asleep, 
A  bearded  man  in  an  enemy  uniform. 
He  had  a  canteen.  Ellyat  wet  his  lips  with  his  tongue. 
"Hey  Johnnie,  got  some  water?"  he  whispered  weakly. 
Then  he  saw  that  the  Johnnie  had  only  half  a  head, 
And  frowned  because  such  men  could  not  lend  canteens. 

He  was  half-delirious  now,  and  it  seemed  to  him 
As  if  he  had  two  bodies,  one  that  was  pain 
And  one  that  lay  beyond  pain,  on  a  couch  of  dew, 
And  stared  at  the  other  with  sober  wondering  eyes. 
"Everyone's  dead  around  here  but  me,"  he  thought, 
"And  as  long  as  I  don't  sing  out,  they'll  think  that  I'm  dead 
And  those  stretcher-bearers  won't  find  me— there  goes  their  lan- 

No,  it's  the  moon— Sing  out  and  tell  'em  you're  here." 
The  hot  body  cried  and  groaned.  The  cool  watched  it  idly. 
The  yellow  moon  burst  open  like  a  ripe  fruit 
And  from  it  rolled  on  a  dark,  streaked  shelf  of  sky 
A  car  and  horses,  bearing  the  brazen  ball 
Of  the  unbearable  sun,  that  halted  above  him 
In  full  rush  forward,  yet  frozen,  a  motion  congealed, 
Heavy  with  light. 

Toy  death  above  Gettysburg. 


JHe  saw  it  so  and  cried  out  in  a  weak,  thin  voice 
While  something  jagged  fitted  into  his  heart 
And  the  cool  body  watched  idly. 

And  then  it  was 

A  lantern,  bobbing  along  through  the  clumped  dead  men, 
That  halted  now  for  an  instant.  He  cried  again. 
A  voice  said,  "Listen,  Jerry,  you're  hearing  things, 
I've  passed  that  feller  twice  and  he's  dead  all  right, 
I'll  bet  you  money." 

Ellyat  heard  himself  piping, 
"I'm  alive,  God  damn  you!  Can't  you  hear  I'm  alive?" 

Something  laughed,  quite  close  now. 

"All  right,  Bub,"  said  a  cloud, 

"We'll  take  your  word  for  it.  My,  but  the  boy's  got  language! 
Go  ahead  and  cuss  while  we  get  you  up  on  the  stretcher- 
It  helps  some— easy  there,  Joe." 

Jack  Ellyat  fell 

Out  of  his  bodies  into  a  whispering  blackness 
Through  which,  now  and  then,  he  could  hear  certain  talking 

Cough  or  remark. 

One  said.  "That's  two  and  a  half 

You  owe  me,  Joe.  You're  pickin'  *em  wrong  tonight." 
"Well,  poor  suckers,"  said  Joseph.  "But  all  the  same, 
If  this  one  doesn't  last  till  the  dressing  station 
The  bet's  off— take  it  slower,  Jerry— it  hurts  him." 

Another  clear  dawn  breaks  over  Gettysburg, 
Promising  heat  and  fair  weather— and  with  the  dawn 
The  guns  are  crashing  again. 

It  is  the  third  day. 

The  morning  wears  with  a  stubborn  fight  ac  Gulp's  Hill 
That  ends  at  last  in  Confederate  repulse 
And  that  barb-end  of  the  fish-hook  cleared  of  the  grey. 

Lee  has  tried  his  strokes  on  the  right  and  left  of  the  line. 
The  centre  remains— that  centre  yesterday  pierced 
For  a  brief,  wild  moment  in  Wilcox's  attack, 
But  since  then  trenched,  reinforced  and  alive  with  guns. 

It  is  a  chance.  All  war  is  a  chance  like  that. 

Lee  considers  the  chance  and  the  force  he  has  left  to  spend 

And  states  his  will. 

Dutch  Longstreet,  the  independent, 
Demurs,  as  he  has  demurred  since  the  fight  began. 
He  had  disapproved  of  this  battle  from  the  first 
And  that  disapproval  has  added  and  is  to  add 
Another  weight  in  the  balance  against  the  grey. 
It  is  not  our  task  to  try  him  for  sense  or  folly, 
Such  men  are  the  men  they  are—but  an  hour  comes 
Sometimes,  to  fix  such  men  in  most  fateful  parts, 
As  now  with  Longstreet  who,  if  he  had  his  orders 
As  they  were  given,  neither  obeyed  them  quite 
Nor  quite  refused  them,  but  acted  as  he  thought  best, 
So  did  the  half-thing,  failed  as  he  thought  he  would, 
Felt  justified  and  wrote  all  of  his  reasons  down 
Later  in  controversy. 

We  do  not  need 

Such  controversies  to  see  that  pugnacious  man 
Talking  to  Lee,  a  stubborn  line  in  his  brow 
And  that  unseen  fate  between  them. 

Lee  hears  him  out 
Unmoved,  unchanging. 

"The  enemy  is  there 
And  I  am  going  to  strike  him,"  says  Lee,  inflexibly. 

Wingate  cursed  with  an  equal  stress 

The  guns  in  the  sky  and  his  weariness, 

The  nightmare  riding  of  yesterday 

When  they  slept  in  the  saddle  by  whole  platoons 

And  the  Pennsylvania  farmer's  grey 

With  hocks  as  puffy  as  toy  balloons, 

A  graceless  horse,  without  gaits  or  speed, 

But  all  he  had  for  his  time  of  need. 

"I'd  as  soon  be  riding  a  Jersey  cow." 

But  the  Black  Horse  Troop  was  piebald  now 

And  the  Black  Horse  Troop  was  worn  to  the  blade 

With  the  dull  fatigue  of  this  last,  long  raid. 

Huger  Shepley  rode  in  a  tense 

Gloom  of  the  spirit  that  found  offence 


In  all  things  under  the  summer  skies 

And  the  recklessness  in  Bristol's  eyes 

Had  lost  its  color  of  merriment. 

Horses  and  men,  they  were  well-nigh  spent. 

Wingate  grinned  as  he  heard  the  "Mount," 

"Reckon  we  look  sort  of  no-account, 

But  we're  here  at  last  for  somebody's  fight." 

They  rode  toward  the  curve  of  the  Union  right. 

At  one  o'clock  the  first  signal-gun  was  fired 

And  the  solid  ground  began  to  be  sick  anew. 

For  two  hours  then  that  sickness,  the  unhushed  roar 

Of  two  hundred  and  fifty  cannon  firing  like  one. 

By  Philadelphia,  eighty-odd  miles  away, 
An  old  man  stooped  and  put  his  ear  to  the  ground 
And  heard  that  roar,  it  is  said,  like  the  vague  sea-clash 
In  a  hollow  conch-shell,  there,  in  his  flowerbeds. 
He  had  planted  trumpet-flowers  for  fifteen  years 
But  now  the  flowers  were  blowing  an  iron  noise 
Through  earth  itself.  He  wiped  his  face  on  his  sleeve 
And  tottered  back  to  his  house  with  fear  in  his  eyes. 

The  caissons  began  to  blow  up  in  the  Union  batteries. 

The  cannonade  fell  still.  All  along  the  fish-hook  line, 
The  tired  men  stared  at  the  smoke  and  waited  for  it  to  clear; 
The  men  in  the  centre  waited,  their  rifles  gripped  in  their  hands, 
By  the  trees  of  the  riding  fate,  and  the  low  s^one  wall,  and  the 

These  were  Hancock's  men,  the  men  of  the  Second  Corps, 
Eleven  States  were  mixed  there,  where  Minnesota  stood 
In  battle-order  with  Maine,  and  Rhode  Island  beside  New  York, 
The  metals  of  all  the  North,  cooled  into  an  axe  of  war. 

The  strong  sticks  of  the  North,  bound  into  a  fasces-shape, 
The  hard  winters  of  snow,  the  wind  with  the  cutting  edge, 

And  against  them  came  that  summer  that  does  not  die  with  the 

Magnolia  and  honeysuckle  and  the  blue  Virginia  flag. 

Tall  Pickett  went  up  to  Longstreet— his  handsome  face  was 

George  Pickett,  old  friend  of  Lincoln's  in  days  gone  by  with  the 

When  he  was  a  courteous  youth  and  Lincoln  the  strange  shawled 

Who  would  talk  in  a  Springfield  street  with  a  boy  who  dreamt  of 

a  sword. 

Dreamt  of  a  martial  sword,  as  swords  are  martial  in  dreams, 
And  the  courtesy  to  use  it,  in  the  old  bright  way  of  the  tales. 
Those  days  are  gone  with  the  blast.  He  has  his  sword  in  his  hand. 
And  he  will  use  it  today,  and  remember  that  using  long. 

He  came  to  Longstreet  for  orders,  but  Longstreet  would  not 


He  saw  Old  Peter's  mouth  and  the  thought  in  Old  Peter's  mind. 
He  knew  the  task  that  was  set  and  the  men  that  he  had  to  lead 
And  a  pride  came  into  his  face  while  Longstreet  stood  there 


"I  shall  go  forward,  sir,"  he  said  and  turned  to  his  men. 

The  commands  went  down  the  line.  The  grey  ranks  started  to 


Slowly  at  first,  then  faster,  in  order,  stepping  like  deer, 
The  Virginians,  the  fifteen  thousand,  the  seventh  wave  of  the 


There  was  a  death-torn  mile  of  broken  ground  to  cross, 

And  a  low  stone  wall  at  the  end,  and  behind  it  the  Second  Corps, 

And  behind  that  force  another,  fresh  men  who  had  not  yet 

They  started  to  cross  that  ground.  The  guns  began  to  tear  them. 

From  the  hill  they  say  that  it  seemed  more  like  a  sea  than  a  wave, 
A  sea  continually  torn  by  stones  flung  out  of  the  sky, 
And  yet,  as  it  came,  still  closing,  closing  and  rolling  on, 
As  the  moving  sea  closes  over  the  flaws  and  rips  of  the  tide. 


You  could  mark  the  path  that  they  took  by  the  dead  that  they 

left  behind, 

Spilled  from  that  deadly  march  as  a  cart  spills  meal  on  a  road, 
And  yet  they  came  on  unceasing,  the  fifteen  thousand  no  more, 
And  the  blue  Virginia  flag  did  not  fall,  did  not  fall,  did  not  fall. 

They  halted  but  once  to  fire  as  they  came.  Then  the  smoke  closed 

And  you  could  not  see  them,  and  then,  as  it  cleared  again  for  a 


They  were  coming  still  but  divided,  gnawed  at  by  blue  attacks, 
One  flank  half-severed  and  halted,  but  the  centre  still  like  a  tide. 

Gushing  ran  down  the  last  of  his  guns  to  the  battle-line. 
The  rest  had  been  smashed  to  scrap  by  Lee's  artillery  fire. 
He  held  his  guts  in  his  hand  as  the  charge  came  up  the  wall 
And  his  gun  spoke  out  for  him  once  before  he  fell  to  the  ground. 

Armistead  leapt  the  wall  and  laid  his  hand  on  the  gun, 
The  last  of  the  three  brigadiers  who  ordered  Pickett's  brigades, 
He  waved  his  hat  on  his  sword  and  "Give  'em  the  steel!"  he  cried, 
A  few  men  followed  him  over.  The  rest  were  beaten  or  dead. 

A  few  men  followed  him  over.  There  had  been  fifteen  thousand 
When  that  sea  began  its  march  toward  the  fish-hook  ridge  and 

the  wall. 

So  they  came  on  in  strength,  light-footed,  stepping  like  deer, 
So  they  died  or  were  taken.  So  the  iron  entered  their  flesh. 

Lee,  a  mile  away,  in  the  shade  of  a  little  wood, 
Stared,  with  his  mouth  shut  down,  and  saw  them  go  and  be  slain, 
And  then  saw  for  a  single  moment,  the  blue  Virginia  flag 
Planted  beyond  the  wall,  by  that  other  flag  that  he  knew. 

The  two  flags  planted  together,  one  instant,  like  hostile  flowers. 
Then  the  smoke  wrapped  both  in  a  mantle— and  when  it  had 

blown'  away, 

Armistead  lay  in  his  blood,  and  the  rest  were  dead  or  down, 
And  the  valley  grey  with  the  fallen  and  the  wreck  of  the  broken 


Pickett  gazed  around  him,  the  boy  who  had  dreamt  of  a  sword 
And  talked  with  a  man  named  Lincoln.  The  sword  was  still  in 
his  hand. 


He  had  gone  out  with  fifteen  thousand.  He  came  back  to  his  lines 

with  five. 
He  fought  well  till  the  war  was  over,  but  a  thing  was  cracked  in 

his  heart. 

Wingate,  waiting  the  sultry  sound 

That  would  pour  the  troop  over  hostile  ground, 

Petted  his  grey  like  a  loving  son 

And  wondered  whether  the  brute  would  run 

When  it  came  to  fighting,  or  merely  shy 

There  was  a  look  in  the  rolling  eye 

That  he  knew  too  well  to  criticize 

Having  seen  it  sometimes  in  other  eyes. 

"Poor  old  Fatty,"  he  said,  "Don't  fret, 

It's  tough,  but  it  hasn't  happened  yet 

And  we  may  get  through  it  if  you  behave, 

Though  it  looks  just  now  like  a  right  close  shave. 

There's  something  funny  about  this  fight—" 

He  thought  of  Lucy  in  candlelight, 

White  and  gold  as  the  evening  star, 

Giving  bright  ribbons  to  men  at  war. 

But  the  face  grew  dimmer  and  ever  dimmer, 

The  gold  was  there  but  the  gold  was  fainter, 

And  a  slow  brush  streaked  it  with  something  grimmer 

Than  the  proper  tint  of  a  lady's  painter 

Till  the  shadow  she  cast  was  a  ruddy  shadow. 

He  rubbed  his  eyes  and  stared  at  the  meadow.  .  .  . 

"There  was  a  girl  I  used  to  go  with, 
Long  ago,  when  the  skies  were  cooler, 

There  was  a  tree  we  to  grow  with 
Marking  our  heights  with  a  stolen  ruler. 

There  was  a  cave  where  we  hid  and  fought  once. 

There  was  a  pool  where  the  wind  kept  writing. 
There  was  a  possum-child  we  caught  once. 

Caged  it  awhile,  for  all  its  biting. 

There  was  a  gap  in  a  fence  to  see  there, 
Down  where  the  sparrows  were  always  wrangling. 


There  was  a  girl  who  used  to  be  there, 
Dark  and  thin,  with  her  long  braids  dangling. 

Dark  and  thin  in  her  scuffed  brown  slippers 
With  a  boy's  sling  stuck  in  her  apron-pocket, 

With  a  sting  in  her  tongue  like  a  gallinipper's 
And  the  eyes  of  a  ghost  in  a  silver  locket. 

White  and  gold,  white  and  gold, 
You  cannot  be  cold  as  she  was  cold, 
Cold  of  the  air  and  the  running  stream 
And  cold  of  the  ice-tempered  dream. 

Gold  and  white,  gold  and  white, 
You  burn  with  the  heat  of  candlelight. 
But  what  if  I  set  you  down  alone 
Beside  the  burning  meteor-stone? 

Blow  North,  blow  South,  blow  hot,  blow  cold, 
My  body  is  pledged  to  white  and  gold, 
My  honor  given  to  kith  and  kin, 
And  my  doom-clothes  ready  to  wrap  me  in 
For  the  shut  heart  and  the  open  hand 
As  long  as  Wingate  Hall  shall  stand 
And  the  fire  burn  and  the  water  cool 
And  a  fool  beget  another  fool- 
But  now,  in  the  hour  before  this  fight, 
I  have  forgotten  gold  and  white. 
I  will  remember  lost  delight. 
She  has  the  Appleton  mouth,  it  seems, 
And  the  Appleton  way  of  riding, 
But  if  she  quarrels  or  when  she  gleams, 
Something  comes  out  from  hiding. 

She  can  sew  all  day  on  an  Appleton  hem 

And  look  like  a  saint  in  plaster, 

But  when  the  fiddles  begin  to  play, 

And  her  feet  beat  fast  but  her  heart  beats  faster, 

An  alien  grace  is  alive  in  them 

And  she  looks  like  her  father,  the  dancing-master, 

The  scapegrace  elegant,  Trench  Dupre.' " 


Then  the  word  came  and  the  bugle  sang 

And  he  was  part  of  the  running  clang, 

The  rush  and  the  shock  and  the  sabres  licking 

And  the  fallen  horses  screaming  and  kicking. 

His  grey  was  tired  and  his  arm  unsteady 

And  he  whirled  like  a  leaf  in  a  shrieking  eddy 

Where  every  man  was  fighting  his  neighbor 

And  there  was  no  room  tor  the  tricks  of  sabre 

But  only  a  wild  and  nightmare  sickling. 

His  head  felt  burnt— there  was  something  trickling 

Into  his  eyes—then  the  new  charge  broke 

The  eddy  apart  like  scattered  smoke; 

The  cut  on  his  head  half  made  him  blind- 

If  he  had  a  mind,  he  had  lost  that  mind. 

He  came  to  himself  in  a  battered  place, 
Staring  at  Wainscott  Bristol's  face, 
The  dried  blood  made  it  a  ferret's  mask. 

"What  happened?"  he  croaked. 

"Well,  you  can  ask," 
Said  Bristol,  drawling,  "But  don't  ask  me, 
For  any  facts  of  the  jamboree. 
I  reckon  we've  been  to  an  Irish  wake 
Or  .maybe  cuttin*  a  johnny-cake 
With  most  of  the  Union  cavalry-corps. 
I  don't  know  yet,  but  it  was  a  war. 
Are  you  crazy  still?  You  were  for  a  piece. 
You  yelled  you  were  Destiny's  long-lost  niece 
And  wanted  to  charge  the  whole  Yank  line 
Because  they'd  stolen  your  valentine. 
You  fought  like  a  fool  but  you  talked  right  wild. 
You  got  a  bad  bump,  too." 

Wingate  smiled 

"I  reckon  I  did,  but  I  don't  know  when. 
Did  we  win  or  what?" 

"And  I  say  again," 
Said  Bristol,  heavily,  "don't  ask  me. 
Inquire  of  General  Robert  Lee. 
I  know  we're  in  for  a  long  night  ride 
And  they  say  we  got  whipped  on  the  other  side. 
What's  left  of  the  Troop  are  down  by  the  road 


We  lost  John  Leicester  and  Harry  Spode 
And  the  Lawley  boys  and  Ballantyne. 
The  Major's  all  right—but  there's  Jim  Divine 
And  Francis  Carroll  and  Jutfson  White— 
I  wish  I  had  some  liquor  tonight." 

Wingate  touched  the  cut  on  his  head. 

It  burned,  but  it  no  longer  bled. 

"I  wish  I  could  sleep  ten  years,"  he  said. 

The  night  of  the  third  day  falls.  The  battle  is  done. 
Lee  entrenches  that  night  upon  Seminary  Ridge. 
All  next  day  the  battered  armies  still  face  each  other 
Like  enchanted  beasts. 

Lee  thinks  he  may  be  attacked, 
Hopes  for  it,  perhaps,  is  not,  and  prepares  his  retreat. 

Vicksburg  has  fallen,  hollow  Vicksburg  has  fallen, 
The  cavedwellers  creep  from  their  caves  and  blink  at  the  sun. 
The  pan  of  the  Southern  balance  goes  down  and  down. 
The  cotton  is  withering. 

Army  of  Northern  Virginia,  haggard  and  tattered, 

Tramping  back  on  the  pikes,  through  the  dust-white  summer, 

With  your  wounds  still  fresh,  your  burden  of  prisoners, 

Your  burden  of  sick  and  wounded, 

"One  long  groan  of  human  anguish  six  miles  long." 

You  r:ach  the  swollen  Potomac  at  long  last, 

A  foe  behind,  a  risen  river  in  front, 

And  fording  that  swollen  river,  in  the  dim  starlight, 

In  the  yellow  and  early  dawn, 

Still  have  heart  enough  for  the  tall,  long-striding  soldiers 

To  mock  the  short,  half  swept  away  by  the  stream. 

"Better  change  our  name  to  Lee's  tVaders,  boys!" 

"Come  on  you  shorty— get  a  ride  on  my  back." 

"Aw,  it's  just  we  ain  t  had  a  bath  in  seven  years 

And  General  Lee,  he  knows  we  need  a  good  bath." 

So  you  splash  and  slip  through  the  water  and  come  at  last 
Safe,  to  the  Southern  side,  while  Meade  does  not  strike; 


Safe  to  take  other  roads,  safe  to  march  upon  roads  you  know 
For  two  long  years.  And  yet-each  road  that  you  take, 
Each  dusty  road  leads  to  Appomattox  now. 


It  is  over  now,  but  they  will  not  let  it  be  over. 

It  was  over  with  John  Brown  when  the  sun  rose  up 

To  show  him  the  town  in  arms  and  he  did  not  flee, 

Yet  men  were  killed  after  that,  before  it  was  over, 

And  he  did  not  die  until  November  was  cool 

—Yellow  leaves  falling  through  a  blue-grey  dusk, 

The  first  winds  of  November  whirl  and  scatter  them— 

So  now,  the  Confederacy, 

Sick  with  its  mortal  sickness,  yet  lives  on 

For  twenty-one  falling  months  of  pride  and  despair, 

Half-hopes  blown  out  in  the  lighting,  heroic  strokes 

That  come  to  nothing,  and  death  piled  hard  upon  death. 

Follow  that  agony  if  you  must  and  can 

By  the  brushwood  names,  by  the  bloody  prints  in  the  woods, 

Cold  Harbor  and  Spottsylvania  and  Yellow  Tavern 

And  all  the  lost  court-houses  and  country  stores 

In  the  Wilderness,  where  the  bitter  fighting  passed, 

(No  fighting  bitterer) —follow  the  rabbit-runs 

Through  the  tangled  wilds  where  the  hair  of  the  wounded  men 

Caught  fire  from  the  burning  trees,  where  they  lay  in  the  swamps 

Like  half-charred  logs— find  the  place  they  called  "Hell's  Half 


Follow  the  Indian  names  in  the  Indian  West, 
Chickamauga  and  Chattanooga  and  all  the  words 
That  are  sewn  on  flags  or  cut  in  an  armory  wall. 
My  cyclorama  is  not  the  shape  of  the  world 
Nor  even  the  shape  of  this  war  from  first  to  last, 
But  like  a  totem  carved,  like  a  totem  stained 
With  certain  beasts  and  skies  and  faces  of  men 
That  would  not  let  me  be  too  quiet  at  night 
Till  they  were  figured. 

Therefore  now,  through  the  storm, 


The  war,  the  rumor,  the  grinding  of  the  machine, 
Let  certain  sounds,  let  certain  voices  be  heard, 

A  Richmond  lady  sits  in  a  Richmond  square 

Beside  a  working-girl.  They  talk  of  the  war, 

They  talk  of  the  rood  and  the  prices  in  low-pitched  voices 

With  hunger  fretting  them  both.  Then  they  go  their  ways. 

But,  before  she  departs,  the  lady  has  asked  a  question— 

The  working-girl  pulls  up  the  sleeve  of  her  dress 

And  shows  the  lady  the  sorry  bone  of  her  arm. 

Grant  has  come  East  to  take  up  his  last  command 
And  the  grand  command  of  the  armies. 

It  is  five  years 

Since  he  sat,  with  a  glass,  by  the  stove  in  a  country  store, 
A  stumpy,  mute  man  in  a  faded  Army  overcoat, 
The  eldest-born  of  the  Grants  but  the  family-failure, 
Now,  for  a  week,  he  shines  in  the  full  array 
Of  gold  cord  and  black-feathered  hat  and  superb  blue  coat, 
As  he  talks  with  the  trim,  well-tailored  Eastern  men. 
It  is  his  only  moment  of  such  parade. 
When  the  fighting  starts,  he  is  chewing  a  dead  cigar 
With  only  the  battered  stars  to  show  the  rank 
On  the  shoulderstraps  of  the  private's  uniform. 

It  is  sullen  Cold  Harbor.  The  Union  attack  has  failed, 

Repulsed  with  a  ghastly  slaughter.  The  twilight  falls. 

The  word  goes  round  the  attack  will  be  made  again 

Though  all  know  now  that  it  cannot  be  made  and  win. 

An  anxious  officer  walks  through  his  lines  that  night. 

There  has  been  no  mutiny  yet,  throughout  all  these  years, 

But  he  wonders  now.  What  are  the  men  doing  now? 

He  sees  them  there.  They  are  silently  writing  their  names 

On  bits  of  rag  and  sewing  the  scraps  of  cloth 

To  their  jackets  while  they  can,  before  the  attack. 

When  they  die,  next  morning,  somebody  may  read  the  names. 

'*  son  is  born  on  a  night  of  mid-  July 
While  the  two  armies  face  each  other,  and  Pickett's  men 
Light  bonfires  of  celebration  along  his  lines. 
The  fire  is  seen  from  the  tents  of  the  other  camp. 
The  news  goes  back  tr  Grant  and  his  chief  of  staff. 


"Haven't  we  any  wood  for  the  little  Pickett?"  says  Grant, 
And  the  Union  bonfires  are  lighted  for  Pickett's  son. 
—All  night  those  two  lines  of  brush-fire,  facing  each  other- 
Next  day  they  send  the  baby  a  silver  service. 
Next  week  or  so  they  move  upon  Pickett's  works. 

On  a  muddy  river,  little  toy  boats  go  out. 

The  soldiers  are  swapping  coffee  for  rank  tobacco, 

A  Northern  badge  for  a  Southern  souvenir, 

A  piece  of  white-flour  bread  for  a  hunk  of  corn-pone. 

A  Northern  lieutenant  swims  the  river  at  night 

To  go  to  a  Southern  dance  at  a  backwoods  store, 

Joke  with  the  girls,  swim  back,  and  fight  the  next  day 

With  his  hosts  of  the  night  before. 

On  disputed  ground, 

A  grey-clad  private  worms  his  way  like  a  snake, 
The  Union  sentries  see  him  and  start  to  fire. 
"Aw,  shut  up,  Yank,"  he  calls  in  a  weary  voice, 
"I  just  skun  out  to  salvage  the  chaplain's  hat, 
It's  the  only  one  he's  got  and  it  just  blew  off." 
The  firing  stops. 

"All  right,  Johnny,"  the  sentries  call, 
"Get  your  hat,  but  be  quick  about  it.  We  won't  hurt  you 
But  you  better  be  back  by  the  time  our  relief  gets  here." 

A  Southern  sharpshooter  crouched  in  a  blue-gum  tree 

Drills  a  tiny  blue-coated  figure  between  the  eyes 

With  a  pea-ball  fired  from  a  smooth-bore  squirrel-rifle. 

The  dead  man's  brother  waits  three  days  for  his  shot, 

Then  the  sharpshooter  crashes  down  through  the  breaking  boughs 

Like  a  lumpy  bird,  spread-eagled  out  of  his  nest. 

The  desolate  siege  of  Petersburg  begins. 

The  grain  goes  firstz  then  the  cats  and  the  squeaking  mice, 

The  thin  cats  stagger  starving  about  the  streets, 

Die  or  are  eaten.  There  are  no  more  cats 

In  Petersburg-and  in  Charleston  the  creeping  grass 

Grows  over  the  wharves  where  the  ships  of  the  world  came  in. 

The  grass  and  the  moss  grow  over  the  stones  of  the  wharves. 

A  Georgia  belle  eats  sherbet  near  Andersonville 

Where  the  Union  prisoners  rot.  Another  is  weeping 

The  death  of  her  brother,  killed  in  a  Union  raid. 


In  the  North,  the  factory  chimneys  smoke  and  fume; 
The  minstrels  have  raised  their  prices,  but  every  night 
Bones  and  Tambo  play  to  a  crowded  house. 
The  hotels  are  full.  The  German  Opera  is  here. 
The  ladies  at  Newport  drive  in  their  four-in-hands. 
The  old  woman  sells  her  papers  about  the  war 
The  country  widows  stitch  on  a  rusty  black. 

In  the  Shenandoah  Valley,  the  millwheels  rot. 

(Sheridan  has  been  there.)  Where  the  houses  stood, 

Strong  houses,  built  for  weather,  lasting  it  out, 

The  chimneys  stand  alone.  The  chimneys  are  blackened. 

(Sheridan  has  been  there.)  This  Valley  has  been 

The  granary  of  Lee's  army  for  years  and  years. 

Sheridan  makes  his  report  on  his  finished  work. 

"If  a  crow  intends  to  fly  over  the  Valley  now 

He'll  have  to  carry  his  own  provisions,"  says  Sheridan. 

The  lonely  man  with  the  chin  like  John  Calhoun's 

Knows  it  is  over,  will  not  know  it  is  over. 

Many  hands  are  turning  against  him  in  these  last  years. 

He  makes  mistakes.  He  is  stubborn  and  sick  at  heart. 

He  is  inflexible  with  fate  and  men. 

It  is  over.  It  cannot  be.  He  fights  to  the  end, 

Clinging  to  one  last  dream—of  somehow,  somewhere, 

A  last,  miraculous  battle  where  he  can  lead 

One  wing  of  the  Southern  army  and  Lee  the  other 

And  so  wrench  victory  out  of  the  failing  odds. 

Why  is  it  a  dream?  He  has  studied  grand  strategy, 

He  was  thought  a  competent  soldier  in  Mexico, 

He  was  Secretary  of  War  once— 

He  is  the  rigid 

Scholar  we  know  and  have  seen  in  another  place, 
Lacking  that  scholar's  largeness,  but  with  the  same 
Tight  mouth,  the  same  intentness  on  one  concept, 
The  same  ideal  that  must  bend  all  life  to  its  will 
Or  break  to  pieces— and  that  is  the  best  of  him. 
The  pettiness  is  the  pettiness  of  a  girl 
More  than  a  man's— a  brilliant  and  shrewish  girl, 
Never  too  well  in  body  yet  living  long. 
He  has  that  unforgiveness  of  women  in  him 
And  women  will  always  know  him  better  than  men 


Except  for  a  few,  in  spite  of  Mexican  wars, 

In  spite  of  this  last*  most  desolate,  warlike  dream. 

Give  him  the  tasks  that  other  scholar  assumed, 

He  would  not  have  borne  them  as  greatly  or  with  such  skill 

And  yet— one  can  find  a  likeness. 

So  now  he  dreams 

Hopelessly  of  a  fight  he  will  never  fight 
And  if  worst  comes  to  worst,  perhaps,  of  a  last 
Plutarch-death  on  a  shield. 

It  is  not  to  be. 

He  will  snatch  up  a  cloak  of  his  wife's  by  accident 
In  the  moment  before  his  capture,  and  so  be  seen, 
The  proud  man  turned  into  farce,  into  sorry  farce 
Before  the  ignorant  gapers. 

He  shades  his  eyes 
To  rest  them  a  moment,  turns  to  his  work  again. 

The  gaunt  man,  Abraham  Lincoln,  lives  his  days. 

For  a  while  the  sky  above  him  is  very  dark. 

There  are  fifty  thousand  dead  in  these  last,  bleak  months 

And  Richmond  is  still  untaken. 

The  papers  rail, 

Grant  is  a  butcher,  the  war  will  never  be  done. 
The  gaunt  man's  term  of  office  draws  to  an  end, 
His  best  friends  muse  and  are  doubtful.  He  thinks  himself 
For  a  while  that  when  the  time  of  election  comes 
He  will  not  be  re-elected.  He  does  not  flinch. 
He  draws  up  a  paper  and  seals  it  with  his  own  hand. 
His  cabinet  signs  it,  unread. 

Such  writing  might  be 
A  long  historic  excuse  for  defeated  strength. 
This  is  very  short  and  strict  with  its  commonsense. 
"It  seems  we  may  not  rule  this  nation  again. 
If  so,  we  must  do  our  best,  while  we  still  have  time, 
To  plan  with  the  new  rulers  who  are  to  come 
How  best  to  save  the  Union  before  they  come, 
For  they  will  have  been  elected  upon  such  grounds 
That  they  cannot  possibly  save  it,  once  in  our  place." 

The  cloud  lifts,  after  all.  They  bring  him  the  news. 

He  is  sure  of  being  President  four  years  more. 

He  thinks  about  it.  He  says,  "Well,  I  guess  they  thought 


They'd  better  not  swap  horses,  crossing  a  stream." 
The  deserters  begin  to  leave  the  Confederate  armies.  . 

Luke  Breckinridge  woke  up  one  sunshiny  morning 
Alone,  in  a  roadside  ditch,  to  be  hungry  again, 
Though  he  was  used  to  being  hungry  by  now. 
He  looked  at  his  rifle  and  thought,  "Well,  I  ought  to  clean  it." 
He  looked  at  his  feet  and  he  thought,  "Well,  I  ought  to  get 
Another  bunch  of  rags  if  we-uns  is  goin' 
To  march  much  more—these  rags  is  down  to  my  hide." 
He  looked  at  his  ribs  through  the  tears  in  his  dirty  shirt 
And  he  thought,  "Well,  I  sure  am  thin  as  a  razorback. 
Well,  that's  the  way  it  is.  Well,  I  ought  to  do  somethin'. 
I  ought  to  catch  up  with  the  boys.  I  wish  I  remembered 
When  I  had  to  quit  marchin'  last  night.  Well,  if  I  start  now, 
1  reckon  I'm  bound  to  catch  'em." 

But  when  he  rose 

He  looked  at  the  road  and  saw  where  the  march  had  passed 
—Feet  going  on  through  the  dust  and  the  sallow  mud, 
Feet  going  on  forever- 
He  saw  that  track. 
He  was  suddenly  very  tired. 
He  had  been  tired  after  fighting  often  enough 
But  this  was  another  weariness. 

He  rubbed  his  head  in  his  hands  for  a  minute  or  so, 
As  if  to  rub  some  slow  thought  out  of  his  mind 
But  it  would  not  be  rubbed  away. 

"I'm  near  it,"  he  thought, 

"The  hotel  ain't  a  mile  from  here  if  Sophy's  still  there. 
Well,  they  wouldn't  give  me  a  furlough  when  I  ast. 
Well,  it's  been  a  long  time." 

On  the  way  to  the  plank  hotel 
He  still  kept  mumbling,  "I  can  catch  up  to  the  boys." 
But  another  thought  too  vague  to  be  called  a  thought 
Washed  over  the  mumble,  drowning  it,  forcing  it  down. 

The  grey  front  door  was  open.  No  one  was  there. 
He  stood  for  a  moment  silent,  watching  the  sun 
Fall  through  the  open  door  and  pool  in  the  dust. 


"Sophy!"  he  called.  He  waited.  Then  he  went  in. 
The  flies  were  buzzing  over  the  dirty  plates 
In  the  dining  room  and  nobody  there  at  all. 
It  made  him  feel  tired.  He  started  to  climb  the  stairs. 
"Hey,  Sophy!"  he  called  and  listened.  There  was  a  creak 
From  somewhere,  a  little  noise  like  a  dusty  rat 
Running  across  a  dusty,  sun-splattered  board. 
His  hands  felt  stronger. 

He  was  on  the  second  floor 
Slamming  the  doors  of  empty  room  after  room 
And  calling  "Sophy!"  At  last  he  found  the  locked  door. 
He  broke  it  down  with  his  shoulder  in  a  loud  noise. 
She  was  lying  in  bed  with  the  covers  up  to  her  chin 
And  her  thin  hands  clutching  the  covers. 

"Well,  Soph,"  he  said. 
"Well,  it's  you,"  she  said. 

They  stared  at  each  other  awhile. 

"The  rest  of  'em's  gone,"  she  said.  "They  went  off  last  night* 

We  haven't  had  no  business.  The  nigger  said 

The  Yanks  were  coming.  They  didn't  have  room  in  the  cart. 

They  said  I  could  stay  for  a  while  and  take  care  of  things 

Or  walk  if  I  wanted.  I  guess  Mr.  Pollet's  crazy. 

He  was  talking  things  to  himself  all  the  time  they  went. 

I  never  slept  in  a  bed  like  this  before. 

I  didn't  know  you  could  sleep  so  soft  in  a  bed." 

"Did  they  leave  any  shoes?"  said  Luke. 

She  shook  her  head. 

"I  reckon  you  could  maybe  tear  up  a  quilt. 
I  reckon  they  wouldn't  mind." 

Luke  grinned  like  a  wolf. 

"I  reckon  they  hadn't  better,"  he  said.  "Not  much. 
Got  anything  to  eat?  I'm  hungry  as  hell." 

They  ate  what  food  she  could  find  and  she  washed  his  feet 
And  bound  them  up  in  fresh  rags. 

He  looked  at  the  rags. 

"Do  for  a  while,"  he  said.  "Well,  come  along,  Soph. 
We  got  a  long  way  to  go." 

Her  eyes  were  big  at  him. 
"The  Yanks  were  comin',"  she  said.  "You  mean  the  war's  over?'* 


He  said,  "I  ain't  had  shoes  for  God  knows  how  long." 
He  said,  "If  it  was  all  Kelceys,  you  wouldn't  mind. 
Now  I'm  goin'  to  get  me  some  shoes  and,  raise  me  a  crop, 
And  when  we  get  back  home,  we'll  butcher  a  hog. 
There's  allus  hogs  in  the  mountains." 

"Well,"  she  said. 
"Well,  you  get  your  duds,"  he  said. 

She  didn't  have  much. 

They  went  along  two  days  without  being  stopped. 
She  walked  pretty  well  for  a  thin  sort  of  girl  like  that. 
He  told  her  she'd  get  fatter  when  they  were  home. 

The  third  day,  they  were  tramping  along  toward  dusk, 

On  a  lonely  stretch  of  road,  when  she  heard  the  horse-hoofs. 

Luke  had  heard  them  before  and  shifted  his  rifle  then. 

The  officer  came  in  sight.  He  was  young  and  drawn. 
His  eyes  were  old  in  their  sockets.  He  reined  his  horse. 
"You're  goin'  the  wrong  way,  soldier.  What's  your  regiment?" 

Luke's  eyes  grew  little.  "— th  Virginia,"  he  drawled, 
"But  I'm  on  furlough." 

"H'm,"  said  the  officer, 
"Where  are  your  furlough-papers?" 

Luke's  hand  slid  down 

By  his  trigger  guard.  "This  here's  my  furlough,"  he  said, 
Resting  the  piece  in  the  palm  of  the  other  hand. 
The  officer  seemed  to  debate  a  thing  in  his  mind 
For  a  long  instant.  Then  he  rode  on,  in  silence. 
Luke  watched  him  out  of  sight.  When  he  was  quite  gone, 
The  hand  slid  back,  the  rifle  was  shouldered  again. 

The  night  had  fallen  on  the  narrow  tent. 

—Deep  night  of  Virginia  summer  when  the  stary 

Are  burning  wax  in  the  near,  languid  sky 

And  the  soft  flowers  hardly  close  all  night 

But  bathe  in  darkness,  as  a  woman  bathes 

In  a  warm,  fragrant  water  and  distill 

Their  perfume  still,  without  the  fire  of  the  sun. 


The  army  was  asleep  as  armies  sleep. 

War  lying  on  a  casual  sheaf  of  peace 

For  a  brief  moment,  and  yet  with  armor  on, 

And  yet  in  the  child's  deep  sleep,  and  yet  so  still. 

Even  the  sentries  seemed  to  walk  their  posts 

With  a  ghost-footfall  that  could  match  that  night. 

The  aide-de-camp  knew  certain  lines  of  Greek 
And  other  such  unnecessary  things 
As  birds  and  music,  that  are  good  for  peace 
But  are  not  deemed  so  serviceable  for  war. 
He  was  a  youth  with  an  inquisitive  mind 
And  doubtless  had  a  failing  for  romance, 
But  then  he  was  not  twenty,  and  such  faults 
May  sometimes  be  excused  in  younger  men 
Even  when  such  creatures  die,  as  they  have  done 
At  one  time  or  another,  for  some  cause 
Which  we  are  careful  to  point  out  to  them 
Much  later,  was  no  cause  worth  dying  for, 
But  cannot  reach  them  with  our  arguments 
Because  they  are  uneconomic  dust. 

So,  when  the  aide-de-camp  came  toward  the  tent, 

He  knew  that  he  was  sleepy  as  a  dog, 

And  yet  the  starlight  and  the  gathered  scents 

Moved  in  his  heart— like  the  unnecessary 

Themes  of  a  music  fallen  from  a  cloud 

In  light,  upon  a  dark  water. 

And  though  he  had 
Some  bitterness  of  mind  to  chew  upon, 
As  well  as  messages  that  he  must  give 
Before  he  slept,  he  halted  in  his  tracks. 

He  saw,  imprinted  on  the  yellow  light 

That  made  the  tent  a  hollow  jack-o'-lantern, 

The  sharp,  black  shadow  of  a  seated  man, 

The  profile  like  the  profile  on  a  bust. 

Lee  in  his  tent,  alone. 

He  had  some  shadow-papers  in  his  hand, 

But  you  could  see  he  was  not  reading  them, 

And,  if  he  thought,  you  could  not  read  his  thoughts, 

Even  as  shadows,  by  any  light  that  shines. 


"You'd  know  that  face  among  a  million  faces," 
Thought  the  still  watcher,  "and  yet,  his  hair  and  beard 
Have  quite  turned  white,  white  as  the  dogwood-bloom 
That  blossomed  on  the  way  to  Chancellorsville 
When  Jackson  was  alive  and  we  were  young 
And  we  were  winning  and  the  end  was  near. 
And  now,  I  guess,  the  end  is  near  enough 
In  spite  of  everything  that  we  can  do, 
And  he's  alone  tonight  and  Jackson's  dead. 

I  saw  him  in  the  Wilderness  that  day 
When  he  began  to  lead  the  charge  himself 
And  the  men  wouldn't  let  him. 

Gordon  spoke 

And  then  the  men  themselves  began  to  yell 
"Lee  to  the  rear—General  Lee  to  the  rear!" 
I'll  hear  that  all  my  life.  I'll  see  those  paws 
Grabbing  at  Traveller  and  the  bridle-rein 
And  forcing  the  calm  image  back  from  death. 

Reckon  that's  what  we  think  of  you,  Marse  Robert, 

Reckon  that's  what  we  think,  what's  left  of  us, 

The  poor  old  devils  that  are  left  of  us. 

I  wonder  what  he  thinks  about  it  all. 

He  isn't  staring,  he's  just  sitting  there. 

I  never  knew  a  man  could  look  so  still 

And  yet  look  so  alive  in  his  repose. 

It  doesn't  seem  as  if  a  cause  could  lose 
When  it's  believed  in  by  a  man  like  that. 
And  yet  we're  losing. 

And  he  knows  it  all. 
No,  he  won't  ever  say  it.  But  he  knows. 

I'd  feel  more  comfortable  if  he'd  move. 

We  had  a  chance  at  Spottsylvania, 

We  had  some  chances  in  the  Wilderness. 

We  always  hurt  them  more  than  we  were  hurt 

And  yet  we're  here— and  they  keep  coming  on. 

What  keeps  us  going  on?  I  wish  I  knew. 
Perhaps  you  see  a  man  like  that  go  on 


And  then  you  have  to  follow. 

There  can't  be 
So  many  men  that  men  have  followed  so. 

And  yet,  what  is  it  for?  What  is  it  for? 
What  does  he  think? 

His  hands  are  lying  there 
Quiet  as  stones  or  shadows  in  his  lap. 
His  beard  is  whiter  than  the  dogwood  bloom, 
But  there  is  nothing  ruined  in  his  face, 
And  nothing  beaten  in  those  steady  eyes. 
If  he's  grown  old,  it  isn't  like  a  man, 
It's  more  the  way  a  river  might  grow  old. 

My  mother  knew  him  at  old  dances  once. 
She  said  he  liked  to  joke  and  he  was  dark  then, 
Dark  and  as  straight  as  he  can  stand  today. 
If  he  would  only  move,  I  could  go  forward. 

You  see  the  faces  of  spear-handling  kings 
In  the  old  books  they  taught  us  from  at  school; 
Big  Agamemnon  with  his  curly  beard, 
Achilles  in  the  cruelty  of  his  youth, 
And  GEdipus  before  he  tore  his  eyes. 

I'd  like  to  see  him  in  that  chariot-rank, 
With  Traveller  pulling  at  the  leader-pole. 
I  don't  think  when  the  winged  claws  come  down 
They'll  get  a  groan  from  him. 

So  we  go  on. 
Under  the  claws.  And  he  goes  on  ahead. 

The  sharp-cut  profile  moved  a  fraction  now, 
The  aide-de-camp  went  forward  on  his  errand. 

The  years  ride  out  from  the  world  like  couriers  gone  to  a  throw 
That  is  too  far  for  treaty,  or,  as  it  may  be,  too  proud; 
The  years  marked  with  a  star,  the  years  that  are  skin  and  bone. 
The  years  ride  into  the  night  like  envoys  sent  to  a  cloud. 


Perhaps  they  dismount  at  last,  by  some  iron  ring  in  the  skies, 
Dismount  and  tie  their  stallions  and  walk  with  an  armored  tread 
Where  an  outlaw  queen  of  the  air  receives  strange  embassies 
Under  a  tree  of  wisdom,  between  the  quick  and  the  dead. 

Perhaps  they  are  merely  gone,  as  the  white  fo?.m  flies  from  the  bit, 
But  the  sparkling  noise  of  their  riding  is  ever  in  our  ears.— 
The  men  who  came  to  the  maze  without  foreknowledge  of  it, 
The  losers  and  the  finders,  under  the  riding  years. 

They  pass,  and  the  finders  lose,  the  losers  find  for  a  space. 
There  are  love  and  hate  and  delusion  and  all  the  tricks  of  the 


There  are  always  losers  and  finders.  There  is  no  abiding-place 
And  the  years  are  unreturning.  But,  here  and  there,  there  were 


Days  when  the  sun  so  shone  that  the  statue  gave  its  cry 

And  a  bird  shook  wings  or  a  woman  'walked  with  a  certain  mirth, 

When  the  staff  struck  out  a  spring  from  the  stones  that  had  long 

been  dry, 
And  the  plough  moved  on  from  the  hilltop,  but  its  share  had 

opened  the  earth. 

So  the  bird  is  caught  for  an  instant,  and  so  the  bird  escapes. 
The  years  are  not  halted  by  it.  The  losers  and  finders  wait. 
The  years  move  on  toward  the  sunset,  the  tall,  far-trafficking 

Each  with  a  bag  of  news  to  lay  at  a  ghostly  gate. 

Riders  shaking  the  heart  with  the  hoofs  that  will  not  cease, 
Will  you  never  lie  stretched  in  marble,  the  hands  crossed  over  the 


Some  with  hounds  at  your  feet  to  show  that  you  passed  in  peace, 
And  some  with  your  feet  on  lions? 

It  is  time  that  you  were  at  rest. 

John  Vilas  clucked  to  the  scurvy  rack  of  bones 
Between  the  shafts.  The  rickety  cart  moved  on 
Like  a  tired  insect,  creaking  through  the  dust. 


There  was  another  day  behind  them  now 

And  any  number  of  such  days  ahead 

Unrolling  like  a  long  block-printed  cloth 

Pattered  with  field  and  stream  and  snake-rail  fence, 

And  now  and  then,  a  flash  of  cavalry 

Fording  a  backwoods  creek;  a  big,  slow  star 

Mounting  in  silver  over  lonely  woods 

While  the  fire  smelled  of  pine  and  a  cougar  cried; 

A  warm  barn,  full  of  the  sweet  milky  breath 

Of  cows;  a  lank-haired  preacher  on  a  mule; 

A  red-cheeked  woman  who  rushed  after  them 

Armed  with  a  hot  and  smoking  apple-pie 

And  would  not  take  a  penny  from  the  old  man 

Who  held  the  mended  reins  as  if  they  were 

The  vast,  slow-sweeping  scythe  of  Time  himself 

—Old  Time  and  the  last  children  of  his  age, 

Drawn  in  a  rattling  cart,  too  poor  to  thieve, 

By  a  gaunt  horse,  too  ancient  to  die, 

Over  a  rutted  road,  day  after  day, 

Returning  to  the  East  from  whence  he  came. 

It  was  a  portent  in  the  little  towns. 
The  time  had  bred  odd  voyagers  enough; 
Disbanded  soldiers,  tramping  toward  the  West 
In  faded  army  blouses,  singing  strange  songs, 
Heroes  and  chickenthieves,  true  men  and  liars, 
Some  with  old  wounds  that  galled  them  in  the  rains 
And  some  who  sold  the  wounds  they  never  had 
Seven  times  over  in  each  new  saloon; 
Queer,  rootless  families,  plucked  up  by  war 
To  blow  along  the  roads  like  tumbleweed, 
Who  fed  their  wild-haired  children  God  knows  how 
But  always  kept  a  fierce  and  cringing  cur, 
Famished  for  scraps,  to  run  below  the  cart; 
Horsedealers,  draft-evaders,  gipsy  men; 
Crooked  creatures  of  a  thousand  dubious  trades 
That  breed  like  gnats  from  the  debris  of  war; 
Half-cracked  herb-doctor,  patent-medicine  man 
With  his  accordeon  and  his  inked  silk  hat; 
Sellers  of  snake-oil  balm  and  lucky  rings 
And  the  old,  crazy  hatless  wanderer 
Who  painted  "God  is  Love"  upon  the  barns 


And  on  the  rocks,  "Prepare  to  Meet  Thy  God" 

Lost  tribes  and  maverick  nations  of  the  road— 

The  shiftless  people,  who  are  never  still 

But  blow  before  the  wind  unquietly 

And  will  so  blow,  until  the  last  starved  cur 

Yaps  at  the  last  fat  farmer,  and  lies  down 

With  buckshot  tearing  at  his  ravening  heart, 

For  the  slow  years  to  pick  his  carcass  clean 

And  turn  the  little  chapel  of  his  bones 

Into  a  dust  so  sifted  by  the  wind 

No  winds  that  blow  can  sift  it  any  more. 

There  were  unquiet  people  on  the  road, 
There  v/ere  outlandish  strays  and  travellers, 
Drifting  the  little  towns  from  day  to  day, 
Stopping  to  mend  a  wheel  or  patch  a  shoe, 
Beg,  steal  or  sleep  or  write  God's  judgments  out 
And  then  pass  on. 

And  yet,  when  these  three  came, 
John  Vilas  and  his  daughter  and  her  child, 
Like  snail-drawn  Time,  along  the  dusty  track, 
The  story  had  gone  on  ahead  of  them. 
And  there  was  something  in  the  rickety  cart 
Or  the  gaunt  horse  or  in  his  driver's  eyes 
That  made  a  fable  of  their  journeying, 
Until  you  heard  John  Vilas  was  that  same 
Lost  Jew  that  wanders  after  every  war 
But  cannot  die  in  any,  being  curst. 
He  was  the  skipper,  who  first  brought  the  slaves. 
He  was  John  Brown,  arisen  from  his  stone. 
He  was  the  drummer  who  had  lost  his  way 
At  Valley  Forge  and  frozen  in  the  snow, 
To  rove  forevermore,  a  dread  old  man 
Beating  a  phantom  drum  across  the  wind. 
He  was  a  dozen  such  uncanny  fetches, 
And,  while  one  must  not  talk  with  him  too  long, 
There  was  no  luck  at  all  in  crossing  him, 
Because,  and  in  the  end,  the  man  was  Time; 
White-headed  Time,  stoop-shouldered  on  his  scythe, 
Driving  a  daughter  and  a  daughter's  son 
Beyond  the  \^ar,  to  some  wrought-iron  gate 
Where  they  would  drop  their  heavy  load  at  last 


—Load  of  all  war  and  all  misfortune's  load- 
On  the  green  grass  of  a  New  England  grave 
Set  on  the  sea-cliffs,  looking  toward  the  sea. 

While,  for  the  other  tale,  the  woman's  tale, 
The  heart-faced  girl  with  the  enormous  eyes, 
Roving  from  little  town  to  little  town 
Still  looking  for  her  soldier— it  became 
Mixed  with  each  story  of  such  fortune  told 
Behind  drawn  blinds,  by  women,  in  the  dusk, 
Until  she  too  grew  fabulous  as  a  song 
Sung  to  a  beechwood  fiddle,  and  all  the  old 
Barely-recorded  chants  that  are  the  land 
And  no  one  poet's  or  musician's 
-"Old  Dan  Tucker,"  "The  Belle  of  Albany," 
The  girl  who  died  for  love  in  the  high  woods 
And  cruel  Barbara  Allen  in  her  pride. 

So  she  became  a  concertina  tune 

Played  in  plank  taverns  by  a  blind,  old  man, 

A  jew's-harp  strain,  a  comb-and-banjo  song, 

The  music  of  a  soapbox  violin 

Shrilled  out  against  the  tree-toads  and  the  crickets 

Through  the  hot  nights  of  June.  So,  though  she  passed 

Unknowing,  yet  she  left  the  legend-touch 

Bright  as  a  splash  of  sumach  still  behind 

Wherever  the  gaunt  horse  pulled  on  his  load. 

Till,  later,  those  who  knew  no  more  of  her 

Living,  than  they  might  know  of  such  removed 

And  singable  creations  as  "Lord  Randall," 

"Colombo,"  "Little  Musgrave,"  or  "Jay  Gould's  Daughter0 

Yet  knew  enough  of  her  to  sing  about 

And  fit  her  name,  Melora,  to  the  same 

Slow-dropping  minor  of  the  water  and  earth— 

The  minor  of  "the  country  barber-shops 

That  keens  above  the  grave  of  Jesse  James 

And  the  lone  prairie  where  the  cowboy  died, 

The  desolate  minor  of  the  jail-bird's  song, 

Luscious  with  sorrow,  and  the  minor  notes 

That  tell  about  the  tragic  end  of  such 

As  loved  too  well  to  have  such  cruel  fathers 

But  were  so  loving,  even  in  the  dust, 


A  red-rose  brier  grew  out  of  their  dead  hearts 

And  twined  together  in  a  lover's  knot 

For  all  the  county  people  to  admire, 

And  every  lost,  waif  ballad  we  have  made 

And,  making,  scorned  because  it  smelt  of  the  earth, 

And  now  would  seek,  but  cannot  make  again— 

So  she  became  a  legend  and  a  name. 

John  Vilas,  moving  always  toward  the  East, 
Upon  his  last  adventure,  felt  the  sun 
Strike  at  his  bones  and  warm  them  like  the  last 
Heat  of  the  wood  so  long  within  the  fire 
That  long  ago  the  brightness  ate  its  heart 
And  yet  it  lies  and  burns  upon  the  iron 
Unready  still  to  crumble  and  be  cool 
The  white,  transmuted  log  of  purest  ash 
Still  glowing  with  a  late  and  borrowed  flame. 

"This  is  the  sun  of  age,"  he  thought,  "and  so 

We  enter  our  last  journeys  with  that  sun 

Which  we  have  watched  sink  down  ten  thousand  times 

Knowing  he  would  arise  like  Dedalus 

On  the  first  wings  of  morning,  and  exult 

Like  our  own  youth,  fresh-risen  from  its  bed 

And  inexhaustible  of  space  and  light., 

But  now  the  vessel  which  could  not  be  filled 

By  violence  or  desire  or  the  great  storm, 

Runs  over  with  its  weight  of  little  days 

And  when  this  sun  sinks  now,  we'll  sink  with  him 

And  not  get  up  again. 

I  find  it  fit 

That  I,  who  spent  the  years  of  my  desire 
In  the  lost  forest,  seeking  the  lost  stone, 
With  little  care  for  Flarriet  or  the  rest, 
With  little  trust  in  safety  or  the  world, 
Should  now  retrace  at  last,  and  in  my  age, 
The  exact  highway  of  my  youth's  escape 
From  everything  that  galled  it  and  take  on, 
Like  an  old  snake  resuming  his  cast  skins, 
The  East  I  fled,  the  little  towns  I  mocked, 
The  dust  I  thought  was  shaken  from  my  shoes, 
The  sleepiness  from  which  I  ran  away. 


Harriet's  right  and  Harriet  is  just 
And  Harriet's  back  in  that  chintz-curtained  room 
From  which  I  took  her,  twenty  years  ago, 
With  all  the  children  who  were  always  hers 
Because  I  gave  them  nothing  but  my  seed 
And  hardly  heard  their  laughter  or  their  tears 
And  hardly  knew  their  faces  or  their  names, 
Because  I  listened  for  the  wind  in  the  bough, 
Because  my  daughters  were  the  shooting-stars, 
Because  my  sons  were  the  forgotten  streams 
And  the  wild  silvers  of  the  wilderness. 

Men  who  go  looking  for  the  wilderness-stone 
And  find  it,  should  not  marry  or  beget, 
For,  if  they  do  so,  they  may  work  a  wrong 
Deeper  than  any  mere  intent  of  pain. 
And  yet,  what  I  have  sought  that  I  have  sought 
And  cannot  disavouch,  although  it  is 
The  double  knife  that  cuts  the  giver's  hand 
And  the  unwilling  taker's. 

So  I  took 

My  wife,  long  since,  from  that  chintz-curtained  room 
And  so  she  has  gone  back  to  it  again 
After  these  years,  with  children  of  those  years, 
And,  being  kind,  she  will  not  teach  them  there 
To  curse  me,  as  I  think,  though  if  she  did 
She  could  find  reason  in  her  neighbor's  eyes, 
And,  being  Harriet,  she  will  bring  them  up 
As  all  such  children  should  and  must  be  reared 
In  all  such  houses,  till  the  end  of  time, 
As  if  she  had  not  been  away  at  all. 
And  so,  at  last,  she'll  get  the  peace  she  should. 
Arid  yet,  some  time,  a  child  may  run  away. 

We  have  had  sons  and  daughters,  she  and  I, 
And,  of  them  all,  one  daughter  and  one  son 
In  whom  our  strange  bloods  married  with  the  true 
Marriage  that  is  not  merely  sheath  and  sword. 
The  rest  are  hers.  Those  two  were  partly  mine. 

I  taught  my  son  to  wander  in  the  woods 
Till  he  could  step  the  hidden  paths  with  me 


Light  as  a  whisper,  indolent  as  Spring. 
I  would  not  tame  his  sister  when  I  might, 
I  let  her  follow  patterans  of  leaves, 
Looking  for  stones  rejected  by  the  wise. 
I  kept  them  by  me  jealously  and  long. 

And  yet,  the  day  they  took  him,  when  he  sat 
There  on  his  horse,  before  they  all  rode  off, 
It  was  his  mother  who  looked  out  of  him 
And  it  was  to  his  mother  that  he  looked. 

That  is  my  punishment  and  my  offence 
And  that  is  how  it  was.  And  he  is  dead. 
Dead  of  a  fever,  buried  in  the  South, 
Dead  in  this  war  I  thought  a  whirligig 
For  iron  fools  to  play  with  and  to  kill 
Other  men's  sons,  not  mine.  He's  buried  deep. 
I  kept  him  by  me  jealously  and  long. 
Well,  he  walked  well,  alive.  He  was  my  son. 
I'll  not  make  tags  of  him. 

We  got  the  news. 

She  could  not  stay  beside  me  after  that. 
I  see  so  clearly  why  she  could  not  stay. 

So  I  retrace  the  hard  steps  of  my  youth 
Now  with  this  daughter,  in  a  rattling  cart 
Drawn  by  a  horse  as  lean  as  famine's  self, 
And  am  an  omen  in  the  little  towns— 
Because  this  daughter  has  too  much  of  me 
To  be  content  with  bread  made  out  of  wheat. 
To  be  in  love' and  give  it  up  for  rest, 
To  live  serene  without  a  knife  at  heart. 

Such  is  the  manner  and  the  bound  escape 

Of  those  a  disproportion  drives  unfed 

From  the  world's  table,  without  meat  or  grace, 

Though  both  are  wholesome,  but  who  seek  instead 

Their  solitary  victual  like  the  fox. 

And  who  at  last  return  as  I  return 

In  the  ironic  wagon  of  the  years, 

Back  to  the  pasture  that  they  found  too  green, 

Broken  of  every  knowledge  but  the  last 


Knowledge  of  how  escape  is  not  a  door 

But  a  slow-winding  road  whose  hundred  coils 

Return  upon  each  other,  soon  or  late 

—And  how  and  when  and  under  what  cold  stars 

The  old  wound  bleeds  beneath  the  armored  mind 

And  yet,  this  journey  is  not  desolate 

Nor  am  I  desolate  in  it,  as  we  crawl 

Slowly  from  little  town  to  little  town 

Always  against  the  sun,  and  the  horse  nods, 

And  there's  my  daughter  talking,  and  her  child 

Sleeping  or  waking,  and  we  stop  awhile 

And  then  go  on  awhile,  and  I  can  feel 

The  slow  sun  creeping  through  me  summerlong. 

Until,  at  times,  I  Tall  into  a  doze 

Awake,  a  daydream  without  apparitions 

And,  falling  so,  inhabit  for  a  space 

A  second  childhood,  calmer  than  the  first, 

But  wise  in  the  same  fashion,  and  so  touch 

For  a  long,  drowsy  hour  of  afternoon, 

The  ripened  thing,  the  autumn  at  the  heart, 

The  one  full  star  of  evening  that  is  age. 

Yes,  I  must  be  a  second  child  sometimes, 
For  as  we  pass  and  as  they  watch  us  pass, 
It  seems  to  me  their  eyes  make  stories  of  us 
And  I  can  hear  those  stories  murmuring 
Like  pigeons  in  a  loft  when  I'm  asleep, 
Till  sometimes  I  must  wonder  for  a  while 
If  I've  not  changed  myself  for  someone  else 
Or  grown  a  story  without  knowing  it, 
And,  with  no  intermediary  death, 
Stepped  out  of  flesh  and  taken  on  a  ghost. 

For  at  such  times,  it  almost  seems  to  me 

As  if  I  were  no  longer  what  I  am 

But  the  deluded  shade  of  Peter  Rugg 

Still  looking  for  his  Boston  through  the  storm, 

Or  the  strange  spook  of  Johnny  Appleseed, 

Crept  out  of  heaven  on  a  windless  night 

To  see  if  his  wild  orchards  prosper  still 

And  leave  a  heap  of  Baldwins  and  sweet  russets 


— Moonglittered,  scrubbed  with  rags  of  silver  cloud 

And  Indian  magic— by  the  lucky  doors 

Of  such  good  people  as  take  care  of  them— 

While  for  my  daughter,  though  I  know  she's  real, 

She  and  her  story,  yet,  in  the  waking  dream 

She  mixes  with  that  song  I  used  to  know 

About  the  Spanish  lady  of  old  days 

Who  loved  the  Englishman  and  sought  for  him 

All  through  green  England  in  her  scarlet  shoes, 

Knowing  no  word  of  English  but  his  name. 

I  hear  her  voice,  where  the  guitar  is  mixed 
AVith  the  sweet,  jangling  mule-bells  of  Castile, 
i  see  her  face  under  its  high  shell-comb 
—And  then  it  is  my  daughter's— and  I  wake— 
And  yet  know,  even  in  waking,  that  we  are 
Somewhere  between  a  story  and  a  dream. 
And  so,  you  see,  I  find  a  kind  of  peace 
In  this  last  foray,  will  not  rail  at  the  sun, 
Eat,  drink  and  sleep,  in  spite  of  what  is  past, 
Talk  with  my  daughter,  watch  the  turning  skies. 
The  Spanish  lady  found  her  Englishman. 
Well,  we  may  find  this  boy  I've  half-forgot, 
Although  our  story  is  another  story. 

So  life  works  in  us  for  a  little  while 
And  then  the  ferment's  quiet. 

So  we  do 

Wrongs  much  beyond  intent,  and  suffer  them. 
So  we  go  looking  for  the  wilderness-stone. 

I  shall  smell  lilac  in  Connecticut 
No  doubt,  before  I  die,  and  see  the  clean 
White,  reticent,  small  churches  of  my  youth, 
The  gardens  full  of  phlox  and  mignonette, 
The  pasture-bars  1  broke  to  run  away. 

It  \vas  my  thought  to  lie  in  an  uncropped 
And  savage  field  no  plough  had  ever  scored, 
Between  a  bee-tree  and  a  cast  deer-horn. 
It  was  my  thought  to  lie  beside  a  stream 
Too  secret  for  the  very  deer  to  find, 


Too  solitary  for  remembrance. 

It  was  a  dream.  It  does  not  matter  now. 

Bury  me  where  the  soldiers  of  retreat 
Are  buried,  underneath  the  faded  star, 
Bury  me  where  the  courtiers  of  escape 
Fall  down,  confronted  with  their  earth  again. 
Bury  me  where  the  fences  hold  the  land 
And  the  sun  sinks  beyond  the  pasture-bars 
Never  to  fall  upon  the  wilderness-stone. 

And  yet  I  have  escaped,  in  spite  of  all." 

Lucy  Weatherby  smoothed  out  clothes  in  a  trunk 
With  a  stab  at  her  heart. 

The  trunk  was  packed  to  the  lid. 
There  wasn't  an  empty  corner  anywhere, 
Pack  as  she  would— but  the  blue  dress  wouldn't  go  in. 

Of  course  she'd  be  getting  a  lot  of  new  dresses  soon 

And  the  blue  was  old— but  she  couldn't  leave  it  behind. 

If  only  Henry  wasn't  so  selfish,  at  times! 

But  Henry  was  like  all  brothers  and  like  all  men, 

Expecting  a  lady  to  travel  to  Canada 

With  just  one  trunk  and  the  boxes! 

It  was  too  bad. 

He  had  a  trunk  of  his  own  for  razors  and  shirts, 
And  yet  she  couldn't  take  two— and  there  were  the  hoops; 
He  kept  on  fussing  because  she  wouldn't  leave  them 
When  she  knew  he  was  hoping  to  take  all  those  silly  books , 
As  if  you  couldn't  buy  books  wherever  you  went! 

She  pinched  her  cheek  and  stared  at  the  trunk  again. 
The  green  could  come  out,  of  course,  and  the  blue  go  in, 
But  she  couldn't  bear  the  idea  of  leaving  the  green. 

The  war,  of  course,  and  one  thinks  so  much  of  the  war, 
And  those  terrible  Yankees  actually  at  our  gates, 
In  spite  of  our  fine,  brave  boys  and  poor  Mr.  Davis, 
In  spite  of  wearing  old  dresses  for  two  whole  years 
And  sending  the  servants  out  to  work  at  the  forts, 


In  spite  of  the  cheers  and  the  songs  and  the  cause  and  the  right. 
Only,  one  must  not  be  selfish.  One  must  be  brave. 
One  must  think  about  Henry's  health  and  be  sensible, 
And  Henry  actually  thinks  we  can  get  away.  .  .  . 

The  blue  or  the  green?  She  couldn't  decide  it  yet, 

And  there  were  all  those  letters  to  write  tonight. 

She'd  simply  have  to  write  to  Clay  and  Huger 

About  Henry's  health— and  how  it  just  breaks  my  heart, 

But  one  cannot  leave  one's  sick  brother— and  afterwards, 

One  can  always  send  one's  address— and  I'm  sure  if  they  do 

We'll  give  them  a  real,  old-fashioned  Richmond  welcome, 

Though  they  say  that  the  British  leftenants  are  simply  sweet 

And  every  Southern  girl  is  an  absolute  belle. 

They  play  the  "Bonnie  Blue  Flag"  at  the  dances  there, 

And  Sara  Kcnefick  is  engaged  to  an  earl. 

She  saw  herself,  for  an  instant,  walking  the  safe 

Street  of  a  calm  and  British-looking  town. 

She  had  on  a  new  dress.  Her  shoes  and  her  hat  were  new. 

A  white-haired,  dim-faced  man  in  a  British  coat 

Walked  beside  her  and  looked  and  was  listening, 

While  she  told  him  all  about  it,  and  hearing  the  guns, 

And  how  they'd  actually  lived  without  butcher's  meat 

For  weeks  and  weeks— and  the  wounded— and  General  Lee— 

And  only  Henry's  health  had  forced  them  at  last 

To  leave  the  dear  South.  She  choked.  He  patted  her  hand. 

He  hoped  they  would  stay  in  Canada  for  a  while. 

The  blue  or  the  green?  It  was  dreadfully  hard  to  choose, 
And  with  all  the  letters  to  write— and  Jim  Merrihew 
And  that  nice  Alabama  Major- 
She  heard  the  bells 

Ring  for  a  wedding,  but  this  was  a  different  groom, 
This  was  a  white-haired  man  with  stars  on  his  coat, 
This  was  an  Order  wrapped  in  an  English  voice. 

Honey,  sugar-lump  honey  I  love  so  dearly, 
You  have  eluded  the  long  pursuit  that  sought  you, 
You  have  duded  the  hands  that  would  so  enclose  you 
And  with  strange  passion  force  you. 

What  was  this  passion? 
We  do  not  know,  you  and  I,  but  we  would  not  bear  it 


And  are  gone  free. 

So  at  last,  if  fair  girls  must  marry, 
As  young  girls  should,  it  is  after  another  fashion 
And  not  with  youth  but  wisely. 

So  we  are  ransomed, 
And  I  am  yours  forever  and  you  are  mine, 
Honey,  sugar-lump  honey. 

So  we  attain, 

The  white-haired  bridegrooms  with  the  stars  on  their  coats 
And  yet  have  the  beaus  to  dance  with,  for  we  like  dancing, 
So  all  the  world  finds  our  wifely  devotion  charming, 
So  we  play  all  day  in  the  heat  of  the  sun. 

She  held  the  blue  dress  under  her  chin  once  more 

And  smoothed  it  with  one  white  hand.  Then  she  put  it  down 

Smiling  a  little.  No,  it  couldn't  go  in, 

But  she  would  see  if  she  couldn't  help  Henry  pack, 

And  if  she  did,  the  blue  could  go  with  his  shirts. 

It  hardly  mattered,  leaving  some  shirts  behind. 

Sherman's  buzzin'  along  to  de  sea, 
Jubili,  Jubilo! 

Sherman's  buzzin'  along  to  de  sea, 
Like  Moses  ridin'  on  a  bumblebee, 
Scttin'  de  prisoned  and  de  humble  free! 
Hit's  de  year  of  Jubilo! 

Massa  was  de  whale  wid  de  big  inside, 

Jubili,  Jubilo! 

Massa  was  de  lion  and  de  lion's  hide. 

But  de  Lord  God  smacked  him  in  his  hardheart  pride, 

And  de  whale  unswallered,  and  de  lion  died! 

Hit's  de  year  of  Jubilo! 

Oh,  hit  don't  matter  if  you's  black  or  tan, 
Jubili,  Jubilo! 

Hit  don't  matter  if  you's  black  or  tan, 
When  you  hear  de  noise  of  de  freedom-ban* 
Yen's  snatched  baldheaded  to  de  Promise  Lan', 
Hit's  de  year  of  Jubilo! 


Oh,  hit  don't  matter  if  you  pine  or  ail, 

Jubili,  Jubilo! 

Hit  don't  matter  if  you  pine  or  ail, 

Hit  don't  matter  if  you's  been  in  jail, 

De  Lord's  got  mercy  for  your  mumblin'  tale! 

Hit's  de  year  of  Jubilo! 

Every  nigger's  gwine  to  own  a  mule, 

Jubili,  Jubilo! 

Every  nigger's  gwine  to  own  a  mule, 

An'  live  like  Adam  in  de  Golden  Rule, 

An'  send  his  chillun  to  de  white-folks'  school! 

In  de  year  of  Jubilo! 

Fall  down  on  your  knees  and  bless  de  Lord, 
Jubili,  Jubilo! 

Fall  down  on  your  knees  and  bless  de  Lord, 
Dat  chased  old  Pharaoh  wid  a  lightnin'-sword, 
And  rose  up  Izzul  fum  de  withered  gourd, 
Hit's  de  year  of  Jubilo! 

Shout  thanksgivin'  and  shout  it  loud! 

Jubili,  Jubilo! 

Shout  thanksgivin'  and  shout  it  loud, 

We  was  dead  and  buried  in  de  Lazrus-shroud, 

But  de  Lord  came  down  in  a  glory-cloud, 

An'  He  gave  us  Jubilo! 

So  Sherman  goes  from  Atlanta  to  the  sea 

Through  the  red-earth  heart  of  the  land,  through  the  pine-smok< 

Of  the  warm,  last  months  of  the  year. 

In  the  evenings 

The  skies  are  green  as  the  thin,  clear  ice  on  the  pools 
That  melts  to  water  again  in  the  heat  of  noon. 
A  few  black  trees  are  solemn  against  those  skies. 
The  soldiers  feel  the  winter  touching  the  air 
With  a  little  ice. 

But  when  the  sun  has  come  up, 

When  they  halt  at  noonday,  mopping  their  sweaty  brows, 
The  skies  are  blue  and  soft  and  without  a  cloud. 


Strange  march,  half-war,  half  trooping  picnic-parade, 
Cutting  a  ruinous  swathe  through  the  red-earth  land; 
March  of  the  hardy  bummers  and  coffee-coolers 
Who,  having  been  told  to  forage,  loot  as  they  can 
And  leave  a  wound  that  rankles  for  sixty  years. 
March  of  the  honest,  who  did  not  loot  when  they  could 
And  so  are  not  remembered  in  Southern  legend. 
Rough-bearded  Sherman  riding  the  red-earth  roads, 
Writing  home  that  his  rascals  are  fat  and  happy, 
Saying  or  else  not  saying  that  war  is  hell, 
Saying  he  almost  trembles  himself  to  think 
Of  what  will  happen  when  Charleston  falls  in  the  hands 
Of  those  same  rascals— and  yet,  when  we  read  that  march 
Hardly  the  smoking  dragon  he  has  been  called, 
But  the  mere  rough-handed  man  who  rode  with  a  hard 
Bit  through  the  land,  unanxious  to  spare  his  foe 
Nor  grimly  anxious  to  toiture  for  torture's  sake, 
Smashing  this  and  that,— and  yet,  in  the  end, 
Giving  such  terms  to  the  foe  struck  down  at  last 
That  the  men  in  Washington  disavow  them  and  him 
For  over-kindness. 

So  now,  through  the  pine-smoke  Fall, 
The  long  worm  of  his  army  creeps  toward  Savannah 
Leaving  its  swathe  behind. 

In  the  ruined  gardens 

The  buried  silver  lies  well  hid  in  the  ground. 
A  looter  pocks  bullet-marks  in  an  old  oil-portrait. 
A  woman  wails  and  rages  against  the  thieves 
Who  carry  her  dead  child's  clothes  on  their  drunken  bayonets. 
A  looter  swings  from  a  pine  tree  for  thefts  too  crude. 
A  fresh-faced  boy  gets  scars  he  will  carry  long 
Hauling  a  crippled  girl  from  a  burning  house, 
But  gets  no  thanks  but  hate  from  the  thing  he  saved, 
And  everywhere, 

A  black  earth  stirs,  a  wind  blows  over  black  earth, 
A  wind  blows  into  black  faces,  into  old  hands 
Knotted  with  long  rheumatics,  cramped  on  the  hoe, 
Into  old  backs  bent  double  over  the  cotton, 
The  wind  of  freedom,  the  wind  of  the  jubilo. 

They  stray  from  the  lost  plantations  like  children  strayed, 
Grinning  and  singing,  following  the  blue  soldiers, 

They  steal  from  the  lonesome  cabins  like  runaways 

Laden  with  sticks  and  bundles  and  conjur-charms; 

A  huge  black  mother  carries  her  sucking  child 

Wrapped  in  a  quilt,  a  slim  brown  girl  and  her  lover 

Wander  November  woods  like  Adam  and  Eve, 

Living  on  roots  and  rabbits  and  liberty, 

An  old  grey  field  hand  dimly  plods  through  the  mud, 

Looking  for  some  vague  place  he  has  heard  about 

Where  Linkum  sits  at  a  desk  in  his  gold  silk  hat 

With  a  bag  of  silver  dollars  in  either  hand 

For  every  old  grey  field  hand  that  conies  to  him, 

All  God's  chillun  got  shoes  there  and  fine  new  clothes, 

All  God's  chillun  got  peace  there  and  roastin'-ears, 

Hills  of  barbecue,  rivers  of  pot-licker, 

Nobody's  got  to  work  there,  never  no  more. 

His  feet  are  sore  with  the  road  but  he  stumbles  on, 
A  hundred,  a  thousand  others  stumble  as  he, 
Chanting,  dizzied,  drunken  with  a  strange  fever, 
A  child's  delight,  a  brightness  too  huge  to  grasp, 
The  hidden  nation,  untaught,  unrecognized, 
Free  at  last,  but  not  yet  free  with  the  free, 
Ignorant,  joyful,  wronged,  child-minded  and  searching, 
Searching  the  army's  road  for  this  new  wild  thing 
That  means  so  much  but  can't  be  held  in  the  hand, 
That  must  be  there,  that  yet  is  so  hard  to  find, 
This  dream,  this  pentecost  changing,  this  liberty. 

Some  wander  away  to  strange  death  or  stranger  life, 

Some  wander  awhile  and  starve  and  come  back  at  last, 

Some  stay  by  the  old  plantation  but  will  not  work 

To  the  great  disgust  of  masters  and  mistresses, 

Sing  idly,  gamble,  sleep  through  the  lazy  hours, 

Waiting  for  friendly  heaven  to  rain  them  down 

The  mule  and  the  forty  acres  of  their  desire. 

Some,  faithful  beyond  the  bond  that  they  never  signed, 

Hold  to  that  bond  in  ruin  as  in  the  sun, 

Steal  food  for  a  hungry  mistress,  keep  her  alive, 

Keep  the  house  alive,  try  to  pick  the  weeds  from  the  path, 

Gather  the  wood  and  chop  it  and  make  the  fire, 

With  pitying  scorn  for  the  runaway  sheep  of  freedom, 

Freedom's  a  ghost  and  freedom's  a  foolish  talk, 


What  counts  is  making  the  fire  as  it  should  be  made.  .  .  . 

Oh,  blackskinned  epic,  epic  with  the  black  spear, 

I  cannot  sing  you,  having  too  white  a  heart, 

And  yet,  some  day,  a  poet  will  rise  to  sing  you 

And  sing  you  with  such  truth  and  mellowness, 

—Deep  mellow  of  the  husky,  golden  voice 

Crying  dark  heaven  through  the  spirituals, 

Soft  mellow  of  the  levee  roustabouts, 

Singing  at  night  against  the  banjo-moon— 

That  you  will  be  a  match  for  any  song 

Sung  by  old,  populous  nations  in  the  past, 

And  stand  like  hills  against  the  American  sky, 

And  lay  your  black  spear  down  by  Roland's  horn. 

Meanwhile,  in  Georgia,  the  scythe  of  the  march  mows  on, 
The  Southern  papers  discount  it  as  best  they  can. 
Lincoln  is  anxious,  Davis  more  anxious  still. 
The  war  is  in  its  last  winter  of  strife  and  pain. 

Cudjo  buried  the  silverware 

On  a  graveyard  night  of  sultry  air 

While  the  turned  sods  smelled  of  the  winter  damp 

And  Mary  Lou  Wingate  held  the  lamp. 

They  worked  with  a  will.  They  did  not  speak. 

The  light  was  yellow.  The  light  was  weak. 

A  tomb-light  casting  a  last,  brief  flame 

Over  the  grave  of  Wingate  fame. 

The  silver  bowl  of  the  Wingate  toasts, 

The  spoons  worn  hollow  by  Wingate  ghosts, 

Sconce  and  ladle  and  bead-rimmed  plate 

With  the  English  mark  and  the  English  weight, 

The  round  old  porringer,  dented  so 

By  the  first  milk-teeth  of  the  long  ago, 

And  the  candlesticks  of  Elspeth  Mackay 

That  she  brought  with  her  youth  on  her  wedding-day 

To  light  the  living  of  Wingate  Hall 

While  the  mornings  break  and  the  twilights  fall 

And  the  night  and  the  river  have  memories.  .  .  . 

There  was  a  spook  in  Cud  jo's  eyes 

As  he  lowered  the  chests  where  they  must  lie 


And  patted  the  earth  back  cunningly. 

He  knew  each  chest  and  its  diverse  freight 

As  a  blind  man  knows  his  own  front  gate 

And,  decade  by  decade  and  piece  by  piece, 

With  paste  and  shammy  and  elbow-grease, 

He  had  made  them  his,  by  the  pursed-up  lips 

And  the  tireless,  polishing  fingertips, 

Till  now  as  he  buried  them,  each  and  all, 

What  he  buried  was  Wingate  Hall, 

Himself  and  the  moon  and  the  toddy-sippers, 

The  river  mist  and  the  dancing-slippers, 

Old  Marse  Billy  and  Mary  Lou 

And  every  bit  of  the  world  he  knew, 

Master  and  lady  and  house  and  slave, 

All  smoothed  down  in  a  single  grave. 

He  was  finished  at  length.  He  shook  his  head. 

"Mistis,  reckon  we's  done,"  he  said. 

They  looked  at  each  other,  black  and  white, 

For  a  slow-paced  moment  across  the  light. 

Then  he  took  the  lamp  and  she  smoothed  her  shawl 

And  he  lit  her  back  to  the  plundered  Hall, 

To  pray,  with  her  old  serene  observance 

For  the  mercy  of  God  upon  faithful  servants 

And  a  justice  striking  all  Yankees  dead 

On  her  cold,  worn  knees  by  the  great  carved  bed, 

Where  she  had  lain  by  a  gentleman's  side, 

Wife  and  mother  and  new-come  bride, 

Sick  with  the  carrying,  torn  with  the  horning, 

Waked  by  the  laughter  on  Christmas  morning, 

Through  love  and  temper  and  joy  and  grief, 

And  the  years  gone  by  like  the  blowing  leaf. 

She  finished  her  prayer  with  Louisa's  child, 
And,  when  she  had  risen,  she  almost  smiled. 
She  struck  her  hand  on  the  bedstead  head, 
"They  won't  drive  me  from  my  house,"  she  said, 
As  the  wood  rang  under  her  wedding-ring. 
Then  she  stood  for  a  moment,  listening, 
As  if  for  a  step,  or  a  gentleman's  name, 
But  only  the  gnats  and  the  echoes  came. 


Cudjo,  being  less  fortified, 
Covered  his  ears  with  his  hands  and  tried 
To  shut  the  noise  of  the  risen  wind 
Out  of  the  trouble  of  his  mind. 
He  thought,  "Ain't  right  for  dat  wind  to  blow. 
She  wasn't  blowing  awhile  ago. 
Jus'  riz  up  fum  de  earth  somewhere 
When  we  buried  dat  orphan  silver  dere. 
Got1  to  hide  it,  and  so  we  tried, 
But  silver  like  dat  don't  like  to  hide, 
Silver's  ust  to  be  passed  aroun' 
Don't  like  lyin'  in  lonesome  groun', 
Wants  to  come  back  to  de  Hall,  all  right. 
Silver,  I  always  shone  you  bright, 
You  could  see  yo'sclf  in  de  shine- 
Silver,  it  wasn 't  no  fix  of  mine! 
Don't  you  come  projeckin'  after  me!" 

His  eyes  were  shut  but  he  still  could  see 

The  slow  chests  rising  out  of  the  ground 

With  an  ominous  clatter  of  silver  sound, 

The  locks  undoing,  the  bags  unfastening, 

And  every  knife  and  platter  and  spoon 

Clinking  out  of  the  grave  and  hastening 

Back  to  the  Hall,  in  the  witches'  moon; 

And  the  wind  in  the  chimney  played  such  tricks 

That  it  was  no  wind,  be  it  soft  or  loud, 

But  Elspeth  seeking  her  candlesticks 

All  night  long  in  her  ruffled  shroud, 

The  deep  voice  haunting  the  ocean-shell 

To  give  her  judgment  and  weave  her  spell, 

"Thrift  and  love  -for  the  bouse  and  the  chief 

And  a  scone  on  the  hob  for  the  son  of  grief, 

But  a  knife  in  the  ribs  for  the  pleasant  thief" 

Cudjo  heard  it,  and  Cudjo  shook, 

And  Cudjo  felt  for  the  Holy  Book, 

And  the  wind  blew  on  without  peace  or  rest, 

Blowing  the  straws  from  the  dried-up  nest. 

Bailey,  tramping  along  with  Sherman's  bummers, 
Grumbled  and  found  life  pleasant  and  hummed  his  tune. 

He  was  well,  the  blood  ran  in  him,  he  ate  for  ten, 
He  and  the  gang  had  salvaged  a  wall-eyed  nig 
To  fix  their  victuals— and  ir  the  captain  was  on, 
The  captain  had  a  blind  eye. 

Last  night  it  was  turkey, 

The  night  before  it  was  duck— well,  you  couldn't  expect 
Such  things  to  keep  on  forever,  but  while  they  did 
It  was  pretty  soft— it  was  war  like  it  ought  to  be. 
The  Old  Man  marched  'em  hard,  but  that  was  all  right, 
The  Old  Man  knew  his  job  and  the  nig  was  a  buster 
And  the  gang  was  as  good  a  gang  as  you'd  hope  to  find, 
None  of  your  coiFee-coolers  and  straggle-tails 
But  a  regular  gang  that  ran  like  an  eight-day  clock. 
Oh  it  was  gravy,  it  was  the  real  duck  soup, 
Marchin'  into  Atlanta  after  the  fight 
And  then  this  marchin'— well,  they  were  due  for  it, 
And  he  was  a  sergeant  now. 

And  up  in  his  pack 

Were  souvenirs  for  the  red-haired  widow  in  Cairo, 
Some  of  'em  bought  and  some  just  sort  of  picked  up 
But  not  a  damn  one  stolen,  to  call  it  stealin'. 
He  wasn't  a  coffee-cooler  or  a  slick  Susio. 
Poor  little  kid— she'd  had  a  pretty  tough  time- 
Cry  like  a  fool  when  she  gets  a  squint  at  that  brooch— 
They  said  you  couldn't  tell  about  widows  much, 
But  what  the  hell— he  wasn't  a  barnyard  virgin- 
He  liked  a  woman  who'd  been  over  the  bumps 
And  kept  her  get-up-and-git  and  her  sassiness. 
Spitfire-sweetie,  you're  my  valentine  now, 
Bet  the  kids  have  red  hair— well  you  can't  help  that— 
But  they'll  all  look  like  Poppa  or  he'll  know  why. 

He  mused  a  moment,  thinking  of  Ellyat  now. 

There  was  another  kid  and  a  crazy  kid, 

Sort  of  missed  him,  hope  he's  gcttin'  it  soft, 

Must  have  got  a  banger  at  Gettysburg, 

Wrote  me  a  letter  a  couple  of  months  ago, 

Maybe  six,  I  dunno,  I  sort  of  forget. 

Ought  to  give  him  his  old  spread-eagle  now, 

Darn  good  kid,  but  done  enough  for  his  pay. 

Hope  he  finds  that  girl  he  was  talkin'  about, 

Sounds  like  a  pretty  good  piece  for  a  storm-and-strife, 


Skinny,  though—we  like  'em  more  of  a  weight, 
Don't  we,  Carrots? 

Well,  it's  all  in  a  life. 

Ought  to  write  him  sometime  if  we  get  a  chance, 
Wish  we  was  West— we'd  have  him  out  to  the  weddin', 
Me  and  Bessie,  show  him  the  Cairo  girls, 
Hand  him  the  fireman's  grip  and  give  him  a  time. 

His  heart  was  overflowing  with  charity, 

But  his  throat  was  dry  as  the  bottom  of  his  canteen. 

There  was  a  big,  white  house,  some  way  from  the  road.  .  .  , 

He  found  his  captain,  saluted  and  put  his  question. 
The  captain's  eyes  were  satiric  but  not  displeased. 
"All  right,  Sergeant,  take  your  detail  and  forage, 
We're  running  low  on  bacon,  it  seems  to  me, 
And  if  you  happen  to  find  a  pigeon  or  two 
Remember  the  Colonel's  penchant  for  pigeon-pie. 
But  don't  waste  time  and  don't  put  your  hopes  too  high, 
The  Nth  Corps  must  have  gone  by  there  hours  ago 
And  they're  the  biggest  thieves  in  this  whole,  wide  army. 
You'll  be  back,  in  ranks,  all  sober,  in  just  two  hours 
Or  you  won't  have  stripes.  And  if  I  find  one  more  man 
Trying  to  take  a  pet  with  him  on  this  march, 
I  don't  care  if  it's  only  a  treetoad,  I'll  skin  him  alive." 

So  Bailey  came  to  the  door  of  Wingate  Hall, 

With  the  high  wind  blowing  against  him  and  gave  his  orders 

"Make  it  quick  now,  boys— don't  cut  any  monkeyshines, 

But  be  sure  and  get  the  pigeons  if  they're  around. 

Clark,  you  and  Ellis  stay  with  me  by  the  door, 

I'm  going  to  talk  to  the  house  if  there's  anyone  left." 

He  knocked  and  called.  There  was  a  long,  heavy  silence. 
"Hey  you,  the  house!"  The  silence  made  him  feel  queer. 
He  cursed  impatiently  and  pushed  at  the  door. 
It  swung  wide  open.  He  turned  to  Ellis  and  Clark. 
"I'm  goin'  in,"  he  said.  "If  you  hear  me  yell 
Come  in  bilin'." 

They  watched  him  with  mocking  eyes. 
"Wish  to  hell  they'd  make  me  a  sergeant,  Clark," 
"A  three-stripe  souvenir  sergeant." 


"Aw,  hell,"  said  Clark, 
"Bailey's  all  right.  He'll  let  us  in  on  the  juice 
If  there's  any  lawful  juice  that  a  man  could  get." 
"Sure  he's  all  right.  Who  says  that  he  ain't  all  right!" 
"But  all  the  same,  he's  a  sergeant." 

Bailey,  meanwhile 

Was  roving  like  a  lost  soul  through  great,  empty  rooms 
And  staring  at  various  objects  that  caught  his  eye. 
Funny  old  boy  with  a  wig,  hung  up  on  the  wall, 
Queer  sort  or  chairs,  made  your  hands  feel  dirty  to  touch  'eir 
Though  they  were  faded. 

Everything  faded  and  old 

And  quiet—and  the  wind  blowin'— he  moved  as  on  tiptoe 
Though  he  couldn't  say  why  he  did. 

Old  workbasket  there. 

He  opened  it  idly—most  of  the  things  were  gone 
But  there  was  a  pair  of  little,  gold-mounted  scissors 
Made  like  a  bird,  with  the  blades  the  beak  of  the  bird. 
He  picked  it  up  and  opened  and  shut  the  blades. 
Hadn't  rusted— sort  or  handsome  and  queer- 
Bessie  would  certainly  like  it- 
He  held  it  a  minute. 

Wouldn't  take  up  any  room.  Then  he  frowned  at  the  thing. 
"Aw  hell,"  he  said,  "I  got  enough  souvenirs. 
I  ain't  no  damn  coffee-cooler." 

He  started  to  put  the  scissors  back  in  the  case 
And  turned  to  face  a  slight  grey-headed  old  woman 
Dressed  in  black,  with  eyes  that  burned  through  his  skin 
And  a  voice  that  cut  at  his  mind  like  a  rawhide  whip, 
Calling  him  fifty  different  kinds  of  a  thief 
And  Yankee  devil  and  liar  and  God  knows  what, 
Tearing  the  throat  of  her  dress  with  her  thin  old  hands 
And  telling  him  he  could  shoot  her  down  like  a  dog 
But  he'd  steal  her  children's  things  over  her  dead  body. 
My  God,  as  if  you  went  around  shootin'  old  women 
For  fun,  my  God! 

He  couldn't  even  explain. 

She  was  like  all  of  'em,  made  him  sick  in  his  lunch. 
"Oh  hell,"  he  yelled.  "Shut  up  about  your  damn  scissors, 
This  is  a  war,  old  lady!" 

"That's  right,"  she  said, 


"Curse  a  helpless  female,  you  big,  brave  soldier." 
Well,  what  was  a  man  to  do? 

He  got  out  of  the  house, 
Sore  and  angry,  mean  as  a  man  could  feel, 
But  her  voice  still  followed,  reviling,  making  him  burn. 
Now,  where  in  hell  was  that  detail? 

He  saw  them  now, 

All  except  Clark  and  Ellis,  gathered  around 
A  white-polled  nigger  wringing  his  hands  and  weeping. 
One  man  had  a  neck-wrung  pigeon  stuffed  in  his  blouse. 
Well,  that  was  something. 

He  laid  his  hand  on  the  nigger. 
"Hey,  Uncle,  where's  the  well?  You  folks  got  a  well?" 
But  the  nigger  just  kept  on  crying  like  an  old  fool. 
"He  thinks  we're  goin'  to  scalp  him,''  said  one  of  the  men, 
"I  told  him  twict  that  he's  free  but  the  shine  won't  listen. 
I  give  him  some  money,  too,  but  he  let  it  drop. 
The  rest  of  'em  run  away  when  the  army  came." 

"Well,  tell  him  he's  safe  and  make  him  rustle  some  water, 
I'm  dry  as  a  preacher's  tongue.  Where's  Ellis  and  Clark?" 

He  found  Clark  solemnly  prodding  the  hard  dirt  floor 
Of  a  negro  cabin,  while  Ellis  lighted  the  task 
With  a  splinter  of  burning  pine. 

His  rage  exploded 

In  boiling  lava.  They  listened  respectfully. 
"And  next  time,  I  give  you  an  order,"  he  ended  up, 

"Why  you " 

Clark  wiped  his  face  with  his  sleeve. 
"Sorry,  Sergeant,"  he  said  in  an  awed,  low  voice. 
"Well  you  better  be!  What  the  hell  do  you  think  you're  at, 
Playin'  tit-tat-toe  or  buryin'  somebody's  dog?" 
"Well,  Sergeant,"  said  Ellis,  humbly,  "I  allus  heard 
They  buried  stuff,  sometimes,  under  these  here  cabins. 
Well,  I  thought  we  could  take  a  look-well-" 

"Huh?"  said  Bailey. 

He  seized  the  torch  and  looked  at  the  trodden  floor 
For  an  instant.  Then  his  pride  and  his  rage  returned. 
"Hell's  fire!"  he  said,  and  threw  the  splinter  aside, 
"That's  just  about  what  you  would  think,  you  and  Clark! 
Come  out  of  there  on  the  double!  Yes,  I  said  you!" 


They  were  halfway  down  the  driveway  when  Ellis  spoke. 
"Sergeant,"  he  said  "There's  somethin'  on  fire  back  there.'* 
Bailey  stopped— looked  back— a  smoke-puff  climbed  in  the  sky 
And  the  wind  was  high. 

He  hesitated  a  moment. 

The  cabin  must  have  caught  from  the  burning  splinter. 
Then  he  set  his  jaw.  Well,  suppose  the  cabin  had  caught? 
—Damned  old  woman  in  black  who  called  him  a  thief. 
Serve  her  right  if  all  her  cabins  burnt  up. 
The  house  wouldn't  catch— and  here  they  were,  losing  time— 

"Oh  well,"  he  said.  "That  nigger'll  put  it  out. 
It  ain't  our  detail— mosey  along  with  it  there— 
THe  Cap  won't  mind  if  we  run  it  on  him  a  little, 
Now  we  got  the  Colonel's  squab,  but  we  better  step." 

They  hurried  along.  The  smoke  rose  higher  behind  them. 
The  wind  blew  the  burning  flakes  on  Wingate  Hall. 

Sally  Dupre  stared  out  of  her  bedroom  window 
As  she  had  stared  many  times  at  that  clump  of  trees. 
And  saw  the  smoke  rise  out  of  it,  thick  and  dark. 

They  hadn't  had  much  trouble  at  Appleton. 
It  was  too  far  off  the  main  road— and,  as  for  the  slaves, 
Those  who  straggled  after  the  troops  were  better  away. 
The  aunts  complained,  of  course— well,  the  aunts  complained. 
They  were  old,  and,  at  least,  they  had  a  man  in  the  house, 
Even  if  the  man  were  but  crippled  old  Uncle  Paul. 
It  was  the  end  of  the  world  for  him  and  the  aunts. 
It  wasn't  for  her. 

The  years  had  worn  on  her  youth, 
Much  had  worn,  but  not  the  crook  from  her  smile 
Nor  the  hidden  lightness  out  of  her  narrow  feet. 

She  looked  at  the  smoke  again,  and  her  eyes  were  grey 
And  then  they  were  black  as  that  smoke.  She  felt  the  fire 
Run  on  her  flesh.  "It's  Wingate  Hall  and  it's  burning? 
House  that  married  rny  lover  before  he  saw  me, 
You  are  burning,  burning  away  in  a  little  smoke, 
Burning  the  wall  between  us  with  your  fierce  burning, 


Burning  the  strife  between  us  in  your  black  flame, 
Burning  down." 

She  trod  for  an  instant  there 
A  light  glass  floor  of  omen,  brighter  than  sleet 
Over  a  hurtless  fire. 

Then  she  caught  her  breath. 

The  flesh  was  cool,  the  blackness  died  from  her  eyes. 
"We'll  have  to  get  the  slaves  if  the  slaves  will  go. 
I  know  Ned  will.  I'm  not  sure  about  Bob  or  Jim. 
Uncle  Paul  must  give  me  his  pistol.  I'll  have  to  start  them. 
They  won't  go  without  me.  The  aunts  won't  be  any  use. 
Why  wouldn't  she  come  over  here  when  we  all  first  heard? 
I  know  why  she  wouldn't.  I  never  liked  her  so  much. 
Hurry,  Sally!" 

She  ran  downstairs  like  the  wind. 

They  worked  at  the  Hall  that  night  till  the  dawn  came  up, 
Two  smoke-stained  women,  Cudjo  and  Bob  and  Ned, 
But  when  the  dawn  had  risen,  the  Hall  was  gone 
And  Elspeth's  candles  would  not  light  it  again. 

Wingate  wearily  tried  to  goad 

A  bag  of  bones  on  a  muddy  road 

Under  the  grey  and  April  sky 

While  Bristol  hummed  in  his  irony 

"If  you  want  a  good  time,  jine  the  cavalry! 

Well,  we  jined  it,  and  here  we  go, 

The  last  event  in  the  circus-show, 

The  bareback  boys  in  the  burnin'  hoop 

Mounted  on  cases  of  chicken-croup, 

The  rovin'  remains  of  the  Black  Horse  Troop! 

Though  the  only  horse  you  could  call  real  black 

Is  the  horsefly  jsittin'  on  Shepley's  back, 

But,  women  and  children,  do  not  fear, 

They'll  feed  the  lions  and  us,  next  year. 

And,  women  and  children,  dry  your  eyes, 

The  Southern  gentleman  never  dies. 

He  just  lives  on  by  his  strength  of  will 

Like  a  damn  ole  rooster  too  tough  to  kill 

Or  a  brand-new  government  dollar-bill 

That  you  can  use  for  a  trousers-patch 

Or  lightin'  a  fire,  if  you've  got  a  match, 
Or  makin'  a  bunny  a  paper  collar, 
Or  anythin'  else—except  a  dollar. 

Old  folks,  young  folks,  never  you  care, 
The  Yanks  are  here  and  the  Yanks  are  there, 
But  no  Southern  gentleman  knows  despair, 
He  just  goes  on  in  his  usual  way, 
Eatin'  a  meal  every  fifteenth  day 
And  showin'  such  skill  in  his  change  of  base 
That  he  never  gets  time  to  wash  his  face 
While  he  fights  with  a  fury  you'd  seldom  find 
Except  in  a  Home  for  the  Crippled  Blind, 
And  can  whip  five  Yanks  with  a  palmleaf  hat, 
Only  the  Yanks  won't  fight  like  that. 

Ladies  and  gentlemen,  here  we  go! 

The  last  event  in  the  minstrel  show! 

Georgia's  genuine  gamboliers, 

(Ladies  and  gentlemen,  dry  those  tears!) 

See  the  sergeant,  eatin'  the  hay 

Of  his  faithful  horse,  in  a  lifelike  way! 

See  the  general,  out  for  blood, 

And  try  to  tell  the  man  from  the  mud! 

See  the  platoon  in  its  savage  lair, 

A  half-grown  boy  on  a  wheezy  mare. 

Ladies  and  gentlemen,  pass  the  fiat! 

We've  got  one  trick  that  you  won't  forget, 

'The  Vanishin'  Commissariat' 

And  nobody's  found  the  answer  yet! 

Here  we  go,  here  we  go, 

The  last  parade  of  the  circus-show, 

Longstreet's  orphans,  Lee's  everlastin's 

Half  cast-iron  and  half  corn-pone, 

And  if  gettin'  to  heaven  means  prayer  and  fastin's 

We  ought  to  get  there  on  the  fasts  alone. 

Here  we  go  with  our  weddin'  bells, 

Mr.  Davis's  immortelles, 

Mr.  Lincoln's  Thanksgivin'  turkey, 

Run  right  ragged  but  actin'  perky, 

Chased  right  handsome,  but  still  not  carved, 

—We  had  fleas,  but  the  fleas  all  starved. 

We  had  rations  and  new  recruits, 

Uniforms  and  cavalry-boots, 

Must  have  mislaid,  for  we  can't  find  'em. 

They  all  went  home  with  their  tails  behind  'em. 

Here  we  are,  like  the  old  man's  mutton, 

Pretty  well  sheared,  but  not  past  buttin', 

Lee's  last  invalids,  heart  and  nand, 

All  wropped  up  in  a  woolen  band, 

Oh,  Dixie  land.  .  .  .  oh,  Dixie  land!  .  .  ." 

He  tossed  his  hat  and  caught  it  again 

And  Wingate  recalled,  without  grief  or  pain 

Or  any  quietus  but  memory 

Lucy,  under  another  sky, 

White  and  gold  as  a  lily  bed, 

Giving  toy  ribbons  to  all  her  dead. 

She  had  been  pretty  and  she  was  gone, 

But  the  dead  were  here— and  the  dead  rode  on, 

Over  a  road  of  mud  and  stones, 

Each  one  horsed  on  a  bag  of  bones. 

Lucy,  you  carried  a  golden  head, 
But  I  am  free  of  you,  being  dead. 
Father's  back  in  that  cluttered  hall 
Where  the  beds  are  solid  from  wall  to  wall 
And  the  scrubbed  old  floor  has  a  rusty  stain. 
He'll  never  ride  with  the  dogs  again, 
Call  Bathsheba  or  Planter's  Child 
In  the  old,  high  quaver  that  drives  them  wild 
—Rocketing  hounds  on  a  red-hot  scent- 
After  such  wounds,  men  do  not  ride. 
I  think  that  his  heart  was  innocent, 
I  know  he  rode  by  the  riverside, 
Calling  Blue  Ruin  or  Georgia  Lad 
With  the  huntsman's  crotchet  that  sets  them  mad. 
His  face  was  ruddy— his  face  is  white— 
I  wonder  if  Father  died  last  night? 
That  cloud  in  the  sky  is  a  thunderhead. 
The  world  I  knew  is  a  long  time  dead. 

Shepley  looks  like  a  knife  on  guard, 
Reckon  he's  taking  it  mighty  hard, 

Reckon  he  loved  her  and  no  mistake, 
Glad  it  isn't  my  wedding  cake, 
Wainscott  oughtn't  to  plague  him  so, 
Means  all  right  but  he  doesn't  know. 
"Here  we  go,  here  we  go, 
The  last  events  of  the  minstrel-show!" 

Shepley  suddenly  turned  his  head. 
"Mr.  Bristol's  funny,"  he  said. 
The  voice  was  flat  with  an  injury. 
Bristol  stared  at  him,  puzzledly. 
"What's  the  matter  with  you,  Huger? 
Lost  your  dog  or  your  rosy  cheeks? 
Haven't  been  human  for  weeks  and  weeks. 
Ill  sing  you  a  hymn,  if  you're  so  inclined, 
But  the  rest  of  the  boys  don't  seem  to  mind. 
Are  you  feelin'  poorly  or  just  unkind?" 

Shepley  looked  at  him  with  the  blind 

Eyes  of  a  man  too  long  at  war 

And  too  long  nursing  a  secret  sore. 

"Mr.  Bristol's  funny,"  said  he, 

In  a  level  voice  of  enmity. 

Bristol  laughed,  but  his  face  grew  red. 

"Well,  if  you  take  it  like  that—"  he  said. 

"Here  we  go,  here  we  go, 
The  old  Confederate  minstrel-show!" 
His  mouth  was  merry,  he  tossed  his  hat, 
"Belles  skedaddled  and  left  us  flat-" 

Shepley  leaned  from  his  swaying  hips 
Ana  flicked  him  over  the  singing  lips. 
"Will  you  take  it?"  he  said,  "or  let  it  go? 
You  never  could  sing  for  shucks,  you  know." 
The  color  drained  out  of  Bristol's  face. 
He  bowed  with  an  odd,  old-fashioned  grace. 
"Name  your  people  and  choose  your  land, 
I  don't  take  a  slap  from  God's  own  hand. 
Mr.  Shepley,  your  servant,  sir." 

They  stared  at  each  other  across  a  blur. 
The  troop  stared  with  them,  halted  and  still. 


A  rider  lunged  from  the  top  of  the  hill, 
Dusty  man  with  a  bandaged  hand 
Spilling  his  orders. 

"Who's  in  command? 
Well,  it  doesn't  signify,  more  or  less. 
You  can  hold  the  Yanks  for  a  while,  I  guess. 
Make  'em  think  you're  the  whole  rear  guard 
If  you  can  do  it— they're  pressin'  hard 
And  somebody's  got  to  lose  some  hair. 
Keep  'em  away  from  that  bend  down  there 
As  long  as  a  horse  or  a  man  can  stand. 
You  might  give  'em  a  charge,  if  you  think  you  can, 
And  we'll  meet  sometime  in  the  Promised  Land, 
For  I  can't  spare  you  another  man." 

Bristol  whistled,  a  shrill,  sweet  slur. 
"Beg  to  acknowledge  the  orders,  sir. 
Boys,  we're  booked  for  the  shivaree. 
Give  our  regards  to  the  infantry 
And  tell  Marse  Robert,  with  fortitude, 
We  stacked  up  pretty  as  hickory-wood. 
While  might  I  ask,  while  bein'  polite, 
How  many  Yank  armies  we  aim  to  fight?" 

"Well,"  said  the  other,  "about  a  corps. 
Roughly  speakin'— there  may  be  more." 

"Thank  you,"  said  Bristol,  "that's  mighty  sweet. 

You  will  not  remain  at  the  mourner's  seat? 

No  sir?  Well,  I  imagined  not, 

For  from  this  time  hence  it  will  be  right  hot." 

He  turned  to  Shepley  with  his  punctilious 

Air  of  the  devil  turned  supercilious 

When  the  damned  display  a  vulgar  nettlement. 

"Sir,  I  regret  "that  our  little  settlement 

Must  be  postponed  for  a  fitter  season, 

But  war  and  necessity  know  no  reason, 

And  should  we  survive  in  this  comin'  fracas 

I'll  do  you  the  honors— you  damned  old  jackass!" 

Shepley  grinned  at  his  sometime  friend. 
They  took  the  cover  they  must  defend. 


Wingate,  fighting  from  tree  to  tree, 

Felt  a  red-hot  skewer  surgeon  his  knee 

And  felt  his  shoulder  hitting  the  ground. 

He  rolled  on  his  side  and  made  a  sound, 

Dimly  seeing  through  failing  sight 

The  last  brief  passion  of  his  last  fight. 

One  Cotter  dying,  the  other  dead 

With  the  brains  run  out  of  his  shattered  head. 

Stuart  Cazenove  trying  to  squirm 

His  way  to  the  road  like  a  scythe-cut  worm, 

Weakly  humming  "Cadet  Rousselle", 

Shot  through  the  belly  and  half  in  hell, 

While  Shepley  croaked  through  a  bloody  spray, 

"Come  on,  you  bastards,  and  get  your  pay. 

We've  fought  you  mounted  and  fought  you  standin* 

And  I  got  a  hole  I  could  put  my  hand  in— 

And  they're  comin',  Wayne—and  it  hurts  my  head—" 

Bristol  looked  at  him,  lying  dead. 

"Got  the  start  of  me,  Shep,"  he  said. 

"Dirty  welchers,  killin'  Huger 

Before  we  could  settle  up  properly." 

He  stooped  to  the  body  and  took  its  pistol 

And  Wingate  saw,  through  a  rising  mist, 

The  last,  cold  madness  of  Wainscott  Bristol, 

Walking  out  like  a  duellist 

With  his  torn  coat  buttoned  up  at  the  throat 

As  if  it  were  still  the  broadcloth  coat 

Duellists  button  to  show  no  fleck 

Of  telltale  white  at  the  wrists  or  neck. 

He  stepped  from  his  cover  and  dropped  his  hat. 

"Yanks,  come  get  it! "  he  said  and  spat 

While  his  pistols  cracked  with  a  single  crack, 

"Here  we  go  on  the  red  dog's  back! 

High,  low,  jack  and  the  goddam  game." 

And  then  the  answering  volley  came. 

Wingate  waked  from  a  bloodshot  dream. 

They  were  touching  his  leg  and  he  heard  his  scream. 

A  blue-chinned  man  said  a  word  or  two. 

"Well  now,  Johnny,  you  ought  to  do 

Till  the  sawbones  comes  with  his  movin'-van, 

And  you're  lucky  you're  livin',  little  man. 


But  why  the  hell  did  you  act  so  strict, 

Fightin'  like  that  when  you  know  you're  licked, 

And  where's  the  rest  of  your  damn  brigade?" 

The  voice  died  out  as  the  ripples  fade 

Into  the  flow  of  the  running  stream, 

And  Wingate  sank  to  the  bloodshot  dream. 

Richmond  is  fallen— Lincoln  walks  in  its  streets, 
Alone,  unguarded,  stops  at  George  Pickett's  house, 
Knocks  at  George  Pickett's  door.  George  Pickett  has  gone 
But  the  strange,  gaunt  figure  talks  to  George  Pickett's  wife 
A  moment—she  thinks  she  is  dreaming,  seeing  him  there— 
"Just  one  of  George  Pickett's  old  friends,  m'am." 

He  turns  away, 

She  watches  him  down  the  street  with  wondering  eyes. 
The  red  light  falls  upon  him  from  the  red  sky. 
Houses  are  burning,  strange  shadows  flee  through  the  streets. 
A  gang  of  loafers  is  broaching  a  liquor-barrel 
In  a  red-lit  square.  The  liquor  spills  on  the  cobbles. 
They  try  to  scoop  it  up  in  their  dirty  hands. 

A  long,  blue  column  tramps  by,  shouting  "John  Brown's  Body." 
The  loafers  scatter  like  wasps  from  a  half-sucked  pear, 
Come  back  when  the  column  is  gone. 

A  half-crazy  slave 

A  founts  on  a  stoop  and  starts  to  preach  to  the  sky. 
A  white-haired  woman  shoos  him  away  with  a  broom. 
He  mumbles  and  reels  to  the  shadows. 

A  general  passes, 

His  escort  armed  with  drawn  sabres.  The  sabres  shine 
In  the  red,  low  light. 

Two  doors  away,  down  the  street, 
A  woman  is  sobbing  the  same  long  sob  all  night 
Beside  a  corpse  with  crossed  hands. 

Lincoln  passes  on. 

On  the  way  to  Appomattox,  the  ghost  of  an  army 
Staggers  a  muddy  road  for  a  week  or  so 
Through  fights  and  weather,  dwindling  away  each  day. 
For  a  brief  while  Davis  is  with  them  and  then  he  goes 


To  be  tracked  by  his  private  furies  into  the  last 

Sad  farce  of  his  capture,  and,  later,  to  wear  his  chains. 

Benjamin  is  with  them  for  some  few  days, 

Still  sleek,  still  lively,  still  impeccably  dressed, 

Taking  adversity  as  he  took  success 

With  the  silk-ribbed  fan  of  his  slight,  unchangeable  smile. 

Behind  that  fan,  his  mind  weighs  war  and  defeat 

In  an  old  balance. 

One  day  he  is  there  and  smiling. 
The  next  he  is  gone  as  if  he  had  taken  fernseed 
And  walked  invisible  so  through  the  Union  lines. 
You  will  not  find  that  smile  in  a  Northern  prison 
Though  you  seek  from  now  till  Doomsday.  It  is  too  wise. 
You  will  find  the  chief  with  the  chin  like  John  Calhoun's, 
Gadfly-stung,  tormented  by  hostile  fate, 
You  will  find  many  gallant  blockheads  and  tragic  nobles 
But  not  the  black-eyed  man  with  life  in  his  eyes. 

So  this  week,  this  death-march,  these  final,  desperate  strokes, 
These  last  blood-spots  on  the  harvest— until,  at  length, 
The  battered  grey  advance  guard,  hoping  to  break 
A  last,  miraculous  hole  through  the  closing  net, 
Sees  Ord's  whole  corps  as  if  risen  out  of  the  ground 
Before  them,  blocking  all  hope. 

The  letters  are  written, 
The  orders  given,  while  stray  fighting  goes  on 
And  grey  men  and  blue  men  die  in  odd  clumps  of  ground 
Before  the  orders  can  reach  them. 

An  aide-de-camp 

Seeks  a  suitable  house  for  the  council  from  a  chance  farmer. 
The  first  one  found  is  too  dirty  to  please  his  mind, 
He  picks  another. 

The  chiefs  and  the  captains  meet, 
Lee  erect  in  his  best  dress  uniform, 
His  dress-sword  hung  at  his  side  and  his  eyes  unaltered. 
Chunky  Grant  in  his  mudsplashed  private's  gear 
With  the  battered  stars  on  his  shoulders. 

They  talk  a  while 
Of  Mexico  and  old  days. 

Then  the  terms  are  stated. 
Lee  finds  them  generous,  says  so,  makes  a  request. 
His  men  will  need  their  horses  for  the  spring-ploughing. 


Grant  assents  at  once. 

There  is  no  parade  of  bright  swords 
Given  or  taken.  Grant  saw  that  there  should  not  be. 
It  is  over,  then.  .  .  . 

Lee  walks  from  the  little  room. 
His  face  is  Unchanged.  It  will  not  change  when  he  dies. 
But  as  he  steps  on  the  porch  and  looks  toward  his  lines 
He  strikes  his  hands  together  once  with  a  sound.  .  .  . 

In  the  room  he  has  left,  the  blue  men  stare  at  each  other 
For  a  space  of  heartbeats,  silent.  The  grey  ride  off. 
They  are  gone-it  is  over.  .  .  . 

The  room  explodes  like  a  bomb,  they  are  laughing  and  shouting, 

Yelling  strange  words,  dragging  chairs  and  tables  outdoors, 

Bearded  generals  waltzing  with  one  another 

For  a  brief,  wild  moment,  punching  each  others'  ribs, 

Everyone  talking  at  once  and  nobody  listening, 

"It's  over-it's  done-it's  finished!" 

Then,  order  again. 

The  grey  ghost-army  falls  in  for  the  last  time, 
Marcning  to  stack  its  arms. 

As  the  ranks  move  forward 

The  blue  guns  go  to  "Present."  Gordon  sees  the  gesture. 
He  sweeps  his  sabre  down  in  the  full  salute. 
There  are  no  cheers  or  words  from  blue  lines  or  grey. 
Only  the  sound  of  feet.  .  .  . 
I*  is  over,  now.  .  ,  . 

The  arms  are  stacked  from  the  war. 
A  few  bronzed,  tattered  grey  men,  weeping  or  silent, 
Tear  some  riddled  bits  of  cloth  from  the  color-staffs 
And  trv  to  hide  them  under  their  uniforms. 

Jake  Diefer,  ploughing,  a  day  of  the  early  Spring, 
Smelt  April  steam  from  the  ground  as  he  turned  it  up 
And  wondered  how  the  new  forty  would  do  this  year. 

The  stump  of  his  left  arm  ached  in  the  living  wind. 
It  was  not  a  new  pain. 


When  he  got  back  to  the  house 
The  woman  would  ease  it  some  with  her  liniments 
But  there  wasn't  much  you  could  do. 

The  boy  had  been  smart. 

The  boy  had  fixed  the  jigger  so  he  could  plough. 
It  wasn  t  an  arm  you  could  show  to  company 
With  a  regular-looking  hand,  but  it  did  the  work. 
The  woman  still  hankered  after  the  varnished  one 
They'd  seen  that  day  in  the  Philadelphia  store 
—Well,  he'd  tried  it  on,  and  it  was  a  handsome  arm, 
And,  if  the  new  forty  did  well- 
Meanwhile,  the  huge 

Muscles  of  his  right  shoulder  bulged  with  the  strain 
As  the  plough  sheared  on. 

Sometimes,  the  blade  of  the  plough 
Still  turned  up  such  odd  harvest  as  bullets  leave, 
A  spoilt  canteen,  the  brass  of  a  cartridge-pouch, 
An  eyeless  skull,  too  white  for  the  grin  it  wore. 
But  these  were  rarer  now. 

They  had  cleaned  the  well. 
They  could  drink  from  the  well  again. 

The  earth  was  in  plough. 

He  turned  his  team  and  started  the  backward  furrow. 
He  was  clumsy  still,  in  some  matters,  but  he  could  manage. 
This  year  he'd  see  his  own  wheat. 

He  thought  to  himself: 

"You  ain't  the  feller  you  was  but  the  ground  looks  good. 
It  smells  like  good  plantin'  weather.  We  cleaned  the  well. 
Maybe  some  time  we'll  get  you  that  varnished  arm, 
For  Sundays,  maybe.  It'd  look  good  on  Sundays." 
He  gazed  ahead. 

By  the  end  of  the  farther  fence 
A  ragamuffin-something  leaned  on  the  rail, 
Regarding  him  and  his  team. 

"Tramp  feller,"  he  thought, 

"Colored  man,  too— well,  he  can't  hang  around  this  farm, 
Him  or  no  other  tramps.  I  wish  I  could  get 
An  honest  to  God  cheap  hired  man." 

The  team  drew  near. 
The  negro  did  not  move. 

Jake  halted  the  team. 


They  stared  at  each  other.  One  saw  a  crippled  ox, 
The  other  a  scar-faced  spectre  with  haunted  eyes 
Still  dressed  in  the  rags  of  a  shoddy  uniform. 
"Well,  feller?  "said  Jake. 

The  negro  said  "  'Scuse  me,  Sarjun." 
He  scratched  his  head  with  the  wreck  of  a  forage-cap. 
His  eyes  remembered  a  darkness. 

"Huh!"  said  Jake, 
Sharply,  "Where  did  you  get  it?" 

The  negro  shrank. 

"I  was  in  de  Crater,  boss,"  he  said  with  a  dull 
Stain  in  his  voice.  "You  mebbe  heard  about  us. 
You  mebbe  heard  of  de  Crater  at  Petersburg. 
I  doan'  like  thinkin'  about  it.  You  need  a  fiel'-han'?" 

Jake  thought  for  a  moment.  "Crater,"  he  said  at  last. 
"Yuh,  I  heard  about  that  Crater." 

The  wind  blew  on, 

Hurting  his  arm.  "I  wasn't  to  there,"  he  said. 
"I  knew  some  boys  that  was  there." 

The  negro  said, 

"I'd  work  for  my  keep,  boss,  honest.  I  knows  a  team. 
I  knows  how  to  work.  I  got  hurt  bad  in  de  Crater 
But  I  knows  how  to  work  a  farm." 

He  coughed  and  was  dumb. 

Jake  looked  at  him  as  he  might  have  looked  at  a  horse, 

"I  ain't  runnin'  a  hospital," 

He  said,  in  an  aggrieved  voice.  "You  was  to  the  Crater. 
I  seen  the  way  you  colored  folks  farm  down  South. 
It  ain't  no  way  to  farm.  You  ought  to  be  et. 
We'll  eat  you  up  to  the  house  when  it's  mealin'-time. 
I  don't  know  where  we'll  sleep  you.  How  do  I  know 
You  can  work  your  keep?" 

The  negro  said  nothing  at  all. 
His  eyes  had  resumed  their  darkness. 

"Huddup!"  said  Jake, 
As  the  team  swung  round. 

"Dat's  ploughin'!"  the  negro  said. 

Jake  spat.  "The  wornan'll  fix  you  a  snack  to  eat 
If  you  holler  the  house." 


The  negro  shook  his  head. 

"I'll  wait  till  you's  done  furrowin',  boss,"  he  said.       , 
"Mebbe  I  kin  help  you  unhitch  when  it's  time  for  dat." 

"Well,"  said  Jake,  "I  ain't  payin'  a  hired  man  much." 

"Dey  call  me  Spade,"  said  the  negro. 

The  plough  went  on. 
The  negro  watched  it,  cutting  the  furrow  clean. 

Jack  Ellyat,  an  old  cudgel  in  his  fist, 

Walked  from  the  town,  one  day  of  melting  ice, 

Past  fields  still  patched  with  old  snow  but  warm  in  the  sun, 

His  heart  and  mind  being  something  like  those  fields.  .  .  . 

Behind  him,  in  the  town,  the  spangled  flags 

Still  fluttered  or  hung  limp  for  fallen  Richmond, 

And  here  or  there,  in  corners,  you  could  see 

The  burst  firecracker-cases,  rotten  with  rain, 

The  guttered  stumps  of  torches  flung  away 

And  other  odds  and  ends  of  celebration 

Not  yet  swept  up. 

The  old  cannon  in  the  Square 
Still  had  a  blackened  mouth  from  its  salutes, 
The  little  boys  would  not  be  good  all  week 
And  everything  wore  airs  of  Monday  morning.  .  .  . 

Jack  Ellyat,  remembering  it  all, 
Was  glad  enough  when  he.  got  past  the  houses 
And  could  see  nothing  but  the  road  ahead 
Going  up  hills  and  down. 

"It's  over  now. 

Finished  for  good.  Well,  I  was  part  of  it. 
Well,  it  is  over." 

When  he  reached  the  crest 
Of  the  Long  Hill,  he  paused  and  felt  the  wind 
Blow  on  his  face,  and  leaned  upon  his  stick, 
Gazing  at  troubled  Spring. 

He  carried  still 

Wounds  of  a  sort,  some  healed  into  the  scars 
And  some  that  hardly  would  be  healed  awhile, 


Being  in  stuff  few  surgeries  can  reach, 

But  he  was  well  enough,  although  the  wind 

Felt  colder  than  it  had  in  other  bprings. 

"Oh,  yes,"  he  thought,  "I  guess  that  I'm  all  right. 
I  guess  I'm  lucky,  i  remember  once 
Coming  along  this  road  with  poor  old  Ned 
Before  they  tired  on  Sumter.  Well,  it's  over. 
I  was  a  part  of  it." 

He  flipped  a  stone 

Down  toward  the  hill  and  watched  it  strike  and  strike 
And  then  lie  quiet,  while  his  mind  recalled 
The  long,  white,  bloodless  months  of  getting  well 
And  the  strange  feel  of  first  civilian  clothes. 
Well,  that  was  over,  too,  and  he  was  back, 
And  everybody  knew  he'd  settled  down, 
Only  he  couldn't  stand  it  any  more. 

He  had  a  picture  of  Melora's  face, 

Dim  with  long  looking-at,  a  carried  image, 

He  tried  to  see  it  now,  but  it  was  faint. 

He'd  tried  to  find  her  but  he  couldn't  find  her. 

Couldn't  get  any  news  while  he  was  sick, 

And  then,  at  last,  the  news  that  they  were  gone— 

That  and  no  more—and  nobody  knew  where. 

He  saw  the  clock  upon  the  mantelpiece 
Back  in  the  house,  ticking  its  fettered  time 
To  fettered  Phaeton. 

"Ill  settle  down. 

I  will  forget.  I'll  wear  my  riddled  coat 
Fourth  of  Julys  and  have  boys  gape  at  me. 
I'll  drink  and  eat  and  sleep,  marry  a  girl; 
Be  a  good  lawyer,  wear  the  hunger  out. 
I  hardly  knew  her.  It  was  years  ago. 
Why  should  the  hunger  stay?  A  dozen  men 
Might  find  a  dozen  girls  and  lose  them  so 
And  never  once  think  of  it,  but  perhaps 
As  a  dim  fragrance,  lost  with  their  first  youth, 
A  seashell  in  a  box  of  cedarwood, 
A  silver  mist  that  vanished  with  the  day. 


It  was  such  years  ago.  She  must  have  changed. 
I  know  that  I  have  changed. 

We  find  such  things 

And  lose  them,  and  must  live  in  spite  of  it. 
Only  a  fool  goes  looking  for  the  wind 
That  blew  across  his  heartstrings  yesterday, 
Or  breaks  his  hands  in  the  obscure  attempt 
To  dig  the  knotted  roots  of  Time  apart, 
Hoping  to  resurrect  the  golden  mask 
Of  the  lost  year  inviolate  from  the  ground. 
Only  a  fool  drives  horses  in  the  sky." 

And  here  he  was,  out  walking  on  this  road 
For  no  more  reason  than  a  crazy  yarn 
Just  heard,  about  some  gipsy  travellers 
Going  through  towns  and  looking  for  a  soldier. 
And  even  and  supposing  it  were  she  .  .  . 

He  saw  Melora  walking  down  from  the  wood 
With  the  sun  behind  her,  low  in  the  western  cloud. 
He  saw  the  long  shadow  that  her  slight  body  made. 

The  fetters  fell  like  straws  from  the  clock  of  time. 
The  horses  moved  from  the  gate. 

This  life,  this  burning, 
This  fictive  war  that  is  over,  this  toy  death, 
These  were  the  pictures  of  Phaeton. 

This  is  Phaeton. 

He  cast  a  final  look  down  at  the  town, 
Another  at  the  fields  still  patched  with  snow. 
The  wind  blew  on  his  face.  He  moved  away 
Out  toward  the  crossroads,  where  the  wagons  pass, 
And  when  he  got  there,  waited  patiently 
Under  a  windbreak  of  three  twisted  elms 
Half-hidden  from  the  road. 

"Find  her,"  he  said. 

"I  guess  we'll  go  back  West  then.  Well,  that's  that." 
The  wind  burned  at  his  flesh.  He  let  it  burn, 
Staring  at  a  losc&year. 

So  he  perceived 
A  slow  cart  creaking  up  a  slope  of  hill, 


Drawn  by  a  horse  as  gaunt  as  poverty 
And  driven  by  a  woman  with  great  eyes. 

Edmund  Ruffin,  old  Secessionist, 

Firer  of  the  first  gun  that  rang  against  Sumter, 

Walks  in  his  garden  now,  in  the  evening-cool, 

With  a  red,  barred  flag  slung  stiffly  over  one  arm 

And  a  silver-butted  pistol  in  his  right  hand. 

He  has  just  heard  of  Lee's  surrender  and  Richmond's  fall 

And  his  face  is  marble  over  his  high  black  stock. 

For  a  moment  he  walks  there,  smelling  the  scents  of  Spring, 

A  gentleman  taking  his  ease,  while  the  sun  sinks  down. 

Now  it  is  well-nigh  sunken.  He  smiles  with  the  close, 

Dry  smile  of  age.  It  is  time.  He  unfolds  the  flag, 

Cloaks  it  around  his  shoulders  with  neat,  swift  hands, 

Cocks  the  pistol  and  points  it  straight  at  his  heart. 

The  hammer  falls,  the  dead  man  slumps  to  the  ground. 

The  blood  spurts  out  in  the  last  light  of  the  sun 

Staining  the  red  of  the  flag  with  more  transient  red. 

The  gaunt  man,  Abraham  Lincoln,  woke  one  morning 
From  a  new  dream  that  yet  was  an  old  dream 
For  he  had  known  it  many  times  before 
And,  usually,  its  coming  prophesied 
Important  news  of  some  sort,  good  or  bad, 
Though  mostly  good  as  he  remembered  it. 

He  had  been  standing  on  the  shadowy  deck 
Of  a  black  formless  boat  that  moved  away 
From  a  dim  bank,  into  wide,  gushing  waters- 
River  or  sea,^but  huge—and  as  he  stood, 
The  boat  rushed  into  darkness  like  an  arrow, 
Gathering  speed— and  as  it  rushed,  he  woke. 

He  found  it  odd  enough  to  tell  about 
That  day  to  various  people,  half  in  jest 
And  half  in  earnest— well,  it  passed  the  time 
And  nearly  everyone  had  some  pet  quirk, 
Knocking  on  wood  or  never  spilling  salt, 


Ladders  or  broken  mirrors  or  a  Friday, 
And  so  he  thought  he  might  be  left  his  boat, 
Especially  now,  when  he  could  breathe  awhile 
With  Lee  surrendered  and  the  war  stamped  out 
And  the  long  work  of  binding  up  the  wounds 
Not  yet  begun— although  he  had  his  plans 
For  that  long  healing,  and  would  work  them  out 
In  spite  of  all  the  bitter-hearted  fools 
Who  only  thought  of  punishing  the  South 
Now  she  was  beaten. 

But  this  boat  of  his. 
He  thought  he  had  it. 

"Johnston  has  surrendered. 
It  must  be  that,  I  guess— for  that's  about 
The  only  news  we're  waiting  still  to  hear." 
He  smiled  a  little,  spoke  of  other  things. 
That  afternoon  he  drove  beside  his  wife 
And  talked  with  her  about  the  days  to  come 
With  curious  simplicity  and  peace. 
Well,  they  were  getting  on,  and  when  the  end 
Came  to  his  term,  he  would  not  be  distressed. 
They  would  go  back  to  Springfield,  find  a  house, 
Live  peaceably  and  simply,  see  old  friends, 
Take  a  few  cases  every  now  and  then. 
Old  Billy  Herndon's  kept  the  practice  up, 
I  guess  he'll  sort  of  like  to  have  me  back. 
We  won't  be  skimped,  we'll  have  enough  to  spend, 
Enough  to  do— we'll  have  a  quiet  time, 
A  sort  of  Indian  summer  of  our  age. 

He  looked  beyond  the  carriage,  seeing  it  so, 
Peace  at  the  last,  and  rest. 

They  drove  back  to  the  White  House,  dressed  and  ate, 
Went  to  the  theatre  in  their  flag-draped  box. 
The  play  was  a  good  play,  he  liked  the  play, 
Laughed  at  the  jokes,  laughed  at  the  funny  man 
With  the  long,  weeping  whiskers. 

The  time  passed. 

The  shot  rang  out.  The  crazy  murderer 
Leaped  from  the  box,  mouthed  out  his  Latin  phrase, 
Brandished  his  foolish  pistol  and  was  gone. 


Lincoln  lay  stricken  in  the  flag-draped  box. 
Living  but  speechless.  Now  they  lifted  him 
And  bore  him  off.  He  lay  some  hours  so. 
Then  the  heart  failed.  The  breath  beat  in  the  throat. 
The  black,  formless  vessel  carried  him  away. 

Sally,  waiting  at  Appleton 

On  an  autumn  day  of  clear,  bright  sun, 

Felt  her  heart  and  body  begin  to  burn 

As  she  hummed  the  lesson  she  had  to  learn. 

"Yellow  cornmeal  and  a  jackass  colt 

And  a  door  that  swings  on  a  broken  bolt. 

Comfort  the  old  and  pity  the  wise 

And  see  your  lover  with  open  eyes. 

Mend  the  broken  and  patch  the  frayed 

And  carry  the  sorrow  undismayed 

When  your  lover  limps  in  the  falling  rain, 

Never  quite  to  be  whole  again. 

Clear  the  nettle  and  plant  the  corn 

And  keep  your  body  a  hunting-horn. 

Succor  your  love  at  fire  and  frost 

When  your  lover  remembers  the  blood  he  lost, 

And  break  your  hands  on  the  hard-moved  wheel 

Till  they  are  tougher  than  hands  of  steel, 

Till  the  new  grass  grows  on  the  barren  plain 

And  the  house  is  built  from  the  dust  again, 

With  thrift  and  love  for  the  house  and  the  chief, 

A  scone  on  the  hob  for  the  son  of  grief, 

A  knife  in  the  ribs  for  the  pleasant  thief, 

While  the  night  and  the  river  have  memories  .  . 

She  stared  at  the  future  with  equal  eyes. 

And  yet,  in  her  glance,  there  was  something  still 

Not  to  be  ground  by  Wingate  will 

Or  under  the  honor  of  Elspeth's  name, 

A  dancing  flicker  that  went  and  came 

But  did  not  falter  for  joy  or  grief 

Or  the  years  gone  by  with  the  blowing  leaf. 

—French  Dupre  with  his  alien  grace 

Always  turning  the  buried  ace. 

French  Dupre  in  his  dancer's  pride, 

Leading  a  reel  with  his  stolen  bride— 


She  smiled  a  little  and  turned  to  see 
A  weed-grown  path  and  a  scarlet  tree 
And  Wingate  coming  there,  paintully. 

John  Brown's  body  lies  a-mouldering  in  the  grave. 

Spread  over  it  the  bloodstained  flag  of  his  song, 

For  the  sun  to  bleach,  the  wind  and  the  birds  to  tear, 

The  snow  to  cover  over  with  a  pure  fleece 

And  the  New  England  cloud  to  work  upon 

With  the  grey  absolution  of  its  slow,  most  lilac-smelling  rain, 

Until  there  is  nothing  there 

That  ever  knew  a  master  or  a  slave 

Or,  brooding  on  the  symbol  of  a  wrong, 

Threw  down  the  irons  in  the  field  of  peace. 

John  Brown  is  dead,  he  will  not  come  again, 

A  stray  ghost-walker  with  a  ghostly  gun. 

Let  the  strong  metal  rust 

In  the  enclosing  dust 

And  the  consuming  coal 

That  was  the  furious  soul 

And  still  like  iron  groans, 

Anointed  with  the  earth, 

Grow  colder  than  the  stones 

While  the  white  roots  of  grass  and  little  weeds 

Suck  the  last  hollow  wildfire  from  the  singing  bones. 

Bury  the  South  together  with  this  man, 
Bury  the  bygone  South. 
Bury  the  minstrel  with  the  honey-mouth, 
'  Bury  the  broadsword  virtues  of  the  clan, 
Bury  the  unmachined,  the  planters'  pride, 
The  courtesy  and  the  bitter  arrogance, 
The  pistol-hearted  horsemen  who  could  ride 
Like  jolly  centaurs  under  the  hot  stars. 
Bury  the  whip,  bury  the  branding-bars, 
Bury  the  unjust  thing 
That  some  tamed  into  mercy,  being  wise, 
But  could  not  starve  the  tiger  from  its  eyes 
Or  make  it  feed  where  beasts  of  mercy  feed. 
Bury  the  fiddle-music  and  the  dance, 


The  sick  magnolias  of  the  false  romance 
And  all  the  chivalry  that  went  to  seed 
Before  its  ripening. 

And  with  these  things,  bury  the  purple  dream 

Of  the  America  we  have  not  been, 

The  tropic  empire,  seeking  the  warm  sea, 

The  last  foray  of  aristocracy 

Based  not  on  dollars  or  initiative 

Or  any  blood  for  what  that  blood  was  worth 

But  on  a  certain  code,  a  manner  of  birth, 

A  certain  manner  of  knowing  how  to  live, 

The  pastoral  rebellion  of  the  earth 

Against  machines,  against  the  Age  of  Steam, 

The  Hamiltonian  extremes  against  the  Franklin  mean, 

The  genius  of  the  land 

Against  the  metal  hand, 

The  great,  slave-driven  bark, 

Full-oared  upon  the  dark, 

With  gilded  figurehead, 

With  fetters  for  the  crew 

And  spices  for  the  few, 

The  passion  that  is  dead, 

The  pomp  we  never  knew, 

Bury  this,  too. 

Bury  this  destiny  unmanifest, 

This  system  broken  underneath  the  test, 

Beside  John  Brown  and  though  he  knows  his  enemy  is  there 

He  is  too  full  of  sleep  at  last  to  care. 

He  was  a  stone,  this  man  who  lies  so  still, 
A  stone  flung  from  a  sling  against  a  wall, 
A  sacrificial  instrument  of  kill, 
A  cold  prayer  hardened  to  a  musket-ball: 
And  yet,  he  knew  the  uses  of  a  hill, 
And  he  must  have  his  justice,  after  all. 

He  was  a  lover  of  certain  pastoral  things, 

He  had  the  shepherd's  gift. 

When  he  walked  at  peace,  when  he  drank  from  the  watersprings 

His  eyes  would  lift 


To  see  God,  robed  in  a  glory,  but  sometimes,  too, 
Merely  the  sky, 

Untroubled  by  wrath  or  angels,  vacant  and  blue, 
Vacant  and  high. 

He  knew  not  only  doom  but  the  shape  of  the  land, 
Reaping  and  sowing. 

He  could  take  a  lump  of  any  earth  in  his  hand 
And  feel  the  growing. 

He  was  a  farmer,  he  didn't  think  much  of  towns, 
The  wheels,  the  vastness. 

He  liked  the  wide  fields,  the  yellows,  the  lonely  browns, 
The  black  ewe's  fastness. 

Out  of  his  body  grows  revolving  steel, 

Out  of  his  body  grows  the  spinning  wheel 

Made  up  of  wheels,  the  new,  mechanic  birth, 

No  longer  bound  by  toil 

To  the  unsparing  soil 

Or  the  old  furrow-line, 

The  great,  metallic  beast 

Expanding  West  and  East, 

His  heart  a  spinning  coil, 

His  juices  burning  oil, 

His  body  serpentine. 

Out  of  John  Brown's  strong  sinews  the  tall  skyscrapers  grow, 

Out  of  his  heart  the  chanting  buildings  rise, 

Rivet  and  girder,  motor  and  dynamo, 

Pillar  of  smoke  by  day  and  fire  by  night, 

The  steel-faced  cities  reaching  at  the  skies, 

The  whole  enormous  and  rotating  cage 

Hung  with  hard  jewels  of  electric  light, 

Smoky  with  sorrow,  black  with  splendor,  dyed 

Whiter  than  damask  for  a  crystal  bride 

With  metal  suns,  the  engine-handed  Age, 

The  genie  we  have  raised  to  rule  the  earth, 

Obsequious  to  our  will 

But  servant-master  still, 

The  tireless  serf  already  half  a  god- 

Touch  the  familiar  sod 
Once,  then  gaze  at  the  air 


And  see  the  portent  there, 

With  eyes  for  once  washed  clear 

Of  worship  and  of  fear: 

There  is  its  hunger,  there  its  living  thirst, 

There  is  the  beating  of  the  tremendous  heart 

You  cannot  read  for  omens. 

Stand  apart 

From  the  loud  crowd  and  look  upon  the  flame 
Alone  and  steadfast,  without  praise  or  blame. 
This  is  the  monster  and  the  sleeping  queen 
And  both  have  roots  struck  deep  in  your  own  mind, 
This  is  reality  that  you  have  seen, 
This  is  reality  that  made  you  blind. 

So,  when  the  crowd  gives  tongue 

And  prophets,  old  or  young, 

Bawl  out  their  strange  despair 

Or  fall  in  worship  there, 

Let  them  applaud  the  image  or  condemn 

But  keep  your  distance  and  your  soul  from  them. 

And,  if  the  heart  within  your  breast  must  burst 

Like  a  cracked  crucible  and  pour  its  steel 

White-hot  before  the  white  heat  of  the  wheel, 

Strive  to  recast  once  more 

That  attar  of  the  ore 

In  the  strong  mold  of  pain 

Till  it  is  whole  again, 

And  while  the  prophets  shudder  or  adore 

Before  the  flame,  hoping  it  will  give  ear, 

If  you  at  last  must  have  a  word  to  say, 

Say  neither,  in  their  way, 

"It  is  a  deadly  magic  and  accursed," 

Nor  "It  is  blest,"  but  only  "It  is  here." 


Toung  Adventure 


AFTER  the  whipping  he  crawled  into  bed, 
Accepting  the  harsh  fact  with  no  great  weeping. 
How  funny  uncle's  hat  had  looked  striped  red! 
He  chuckled  silently.  The  moon  came,  sweeping 
A  black,  frayed  rag  of  tattered  cloud  before 
In  scorning;  very  pure  and  pale  she  seemed, 
Flooding  his  bed  with  radiance.  On  the  floor 
Fat  motes  danced.  He  sobbed,  closed  his  eyes  and  dreamed. 

Warm  sand  flowed  round  him.  Blurts  of  crimson  light 

Splashed  the  white  grains  like  blood.  Past  the  cave's  mouth 

Shone  with  a  large,  fierce  splendor,  wildly  bright, 

The  crooked  constellations  of  the  South; 

Here  the  Cross  swung;  and  there,  affronting  Mars, 

The  Centaur  stormed  aside  a  froth  of  stars. 

Within,  great  casks,  like  wattled  aldermen, 

Sighed  of  enormous  feasts,  and  cloth  of  gold 

Glowed  on  the  walls  like  hot  desire.  Again, 

Beside  webbed  purples  from  some  galleon's  hold, 

A  black  chest  bore  the  skull  and  bones  in  white 

Above  a  scrawled  "Gunpowder! "  By  the  flames, 

Decked  out  in  crimson,  gemmed  with  syenite, 

Hailing  their  fellows  with  outrageous  names, 

The  pirates  sat  and  diced.  Their  eyes  were  moons. 

"Doubloons!"  they  said.  The  words  crashed  gold.  "Doubloons!" 



HE  LAY  within  a  warm,  soft  world 
Of  motion.  Colors  bloomed  and  fled, 
Maroon  and  turquoise,  saffron,  red, 
Wave  upon  wave  that  broke  and  whirled 
To  vanish  in  the  grey-green  gloom, 
Perspectiveless  and  shadowy. 
A  bulging  world  that  had  no  walls, 
A  flowing  world,  most  like  the  sea, 
Compassing  all  infinity 
Within  a  shapeless,  ebbing  room, 
An  endless  tide  that  swells  and  falls  .  .  , 
He  slept  and  woke  and  slept  again. 
As  a  veil  drops,  Time  dropped  away; 
Space  grew  a  toy  for  children's  play, 
Sleep  bolted  fast  the  gates  of  Sense- 
He  lay  in  naked  impotence; 
Like  a  drenched  moth  that  creeps  and  crawls 
Heavily  up  brown,  light-baked  walls, 
To  fall  in  wreck,  her  task  undone, 
Yet  somehow  striving  toward  the  sun. 
So,  as  he  slept,  his  hands  clenched  tighter, 
Shut  in  the  old  way  of  the  fighter, 
His  feet  curled  up  to  grip  the  ground, 
His  muscles  tautened  for  a  bound; 
And  though  he  felt,  and  felt  alone, 
Strange  brightness  stirred  him  to  the  bone, 
Cravings  to  rise— till  deeper  sleep 
Buried  the  hope,  the  call,  the  leap; 
A  wind  puffed  out  his  mind's  faint  spark. 
He  was  absorbed  into  the  dark. 
He  woke  again  and  felt  a  surge 
Within  him,  a  mysterious  urge 
That  grew  one  hungry  flame  of  passion; 
The  whole  world  altered  shape  and  fashion. 
Deceived,  befooled,  bereft  and  torn, 
He  scourged  the  heavens  with  his  scorn, 
Lifting  a  bitter  voice  to  cry 
Against  the  eternal  treachery- 
Till,  suddenly,  he  found  the  breast, 


And  ceased,  and  all  things  were  at  rest, 
The  earth  grew  one  warm  languid  sea 
And  he  a  wave.  Joy,  tingling,  crept 
Throughout  him.  He  was  quenched  and  slept. 

So,  while  the  moon  made  broad  her  ring, 
He  slept  and  cried  and  was  a  king. 
So,  worthily,  he  acted  o'er 
The  endless  miracle  once  more. 
Facing  immense  adventures  daily, 
He  strove  still  onward,  weeping,  gayly, 
Conquered  or  fled  from  them,  but  grew 
As  soil-starved,  rough  pine-saplings  do. 
Till,  one  day,  crawling  seemed  suspect. 
He  gripped  the  air  and  stood  erect 
And  splendid.  With  immortal  rage 
He  entered  on  man's  heritage! 


IF  YOU  were  with  me—as  you're  not,  of  course, 

I'd  taste  the  elegant  tortures  of  Despair 

With  a  slow,  lai^guid,  long-refining  tongue; 

Puzzle  for  days  on  one  particular  stare, 

Or  if  you  knew  a  word's  peculiar  force, 

Or  what  you  looked  like  when  you  were  quite  young. 

You'd  lift  me  heaven-high— till  a  word  grated. 
Dash  me  hell-deep— oh  that  luxurious  Pit, 
Fatly  -and  well  encushioned  with  self-pity, 
Where  Love's  an  epicure  not  quickly  sated! 
What  mournful  musics  wander  over  it, 
Faint-blown  from  some  long-lost  celestial  city! 

Such  bitter  joyousness  I'd  have,  and  action, 
Were  you  here— be  no  more  the  fool  who  broods 
On  true  Adventure  till  he  wakes  her  scorning— 
But  we're  too  petty  for  such  noble  warning. 
And  I  find  just  as  perfect  satisfaction 
In  analyzing  these,  and  other  moods! 



"Ah,  did  you  once  see  Shelley  plain?"— BROWNING. 

"SHELLEY?  Oh,  yes,  I  saw  him  often  then," 
The  old  man  said.  A  dry  smile  creased  his  face 
With  many  wrinkles.  "That's  a  great  poem,  now! 
That  one  of  Browning's!  Shelley?  Shelley  plain? 
The  time  that  I  remember  best  is  this— 

"A  thin  mire  crept  along  the  ratted  ways, 

And  all  the  trees  were  harried  by  cold  rain 

That  drove  a  moment  fiercely  and  then  ceased, 

Falling  so  slow  it  hung  like  a  grey  mist 

Over  the  school.  The  walks  were  like  blurred  glass. 

The  buildings  reeked  with  vapor,  black  and  harsh 

Against  the  deepening  darkness  of  the  sky; 

And  each  lamp  was  a  hazy  yellow  moon, 

Filling  the  space  about  with  golden  motes, 

And  making  all  things  larger  than  they  were. 

One  yellow  halo  hung  above  a  door, 

That  gave  on  a  black  passage.  Round  about 

Struggled  a  howling  crowd  of  boys,  pell-mell, 

Pushing  and  jostling  like  a  stormy  sea, 

With  shouting  faces,  turned  a  pasty  white 

By  the  strange  light,  for  foam.  They  all  had  clods, 

Or  slimy  balls  of  mud.  A  few  gripped  stones. 

And  there,  his  back  against  the  battered  door, 

His  pile  of  books  scattered  about  his  feet, 

Stood  Shelley  while  two  others  held  him  fast, 

And  the  clods  beat  upon  him.  'Shelley!  Shelley!' 

The  high  shouts  rang  through  all  the  corridors, 

'Shelley!  Mad  Shelley!  Come  along  and  help!' 

And  all  the  crow3  dug  madly  at  the  earth, 

Scratching  and  clawing  at  the  streaming  mud, 

And  fouled  each  other  and  themselves.  And  still 

Shelley  stood  up.  His  eyes  were  like  a  flame 

Set  in  some  white,  still  room;  for  all  his  face 

Was  white,  a  whiteness  like  no  human  color, 

But  white  and  dreadful  as  consuming  fire. 

His  hands  shook  now  and  then,  like  slender  cords 


Which  bear  too  heavy  weights.  He  did  not  speak. 
So  I  saw  Shelley  plain." 

"And  you?  "I  said. 

"I?  I  threw  straighter  than  the  most  of  them, 
And  had  firm  clods.  I  hit  him— well,  at  least 
Thrice  in  the  face.  He  made  good  sport  that  night." 


"But,  sir"  I  said,  "they  tell  me  the  man  is  like 
to  die!"  The  Canon  shook  his  head,  indulgently. 
VYoung  blood,  Cousin,"  he  boomed.  "Young 
blood!  Youth  'will  be  served!" 


HE  WOKE  up  with  a  sick  taste  in  his  mouth 

And  lay  there  heavily,  while  dancing  motes 

Whirled  through  his  brain  in  endless,  rippling  streams, 

And  a  grey  mist  weighed  down  upon  his  eyes 

So  that  they  could  not  open  fully.  Yet 

After  some  time  his  blurred  mind  stumbled  back 

To  its  last  ragged  memory— a  room; 

Air  foul  with  wine;  a  shouting,  reeling  crowd 

Of  friends  who  dragged  him,  dazed  and  blind  with  drink 

Out  to  the  street;  a  crazy  rout  of  cahs; 

The  steady  mutter  of  his  neighbor's  voice, 

Mumbling  out  dull  obscenity  by  rote; 

And  then  . . .  well,  they  had  brought  him  home  it  seemed, 

Since  he  awoke  in  bed— oh,  damn  the  business! 

He  had  not  wanted  it— the  silly  jokes, 

"One  last,  great  night  of  freedom  ere  you're  married!" 

"You'll  get  no  fun  then!"  "H-ssh,  don't  tell  that  story, 

He'll  have  a  wife  soon!"— God!  the  sitting  down 

To  drink  till  you  were  sodden!  .  .  . 

Like  great  light 

She  came  into  his  thoughts.  That  was  the  worst. 
To  wallow  in  the  mud  like  this  because 
His  friends  were  fools.  He  was  not  fit  to  touch, 


To  see,  oh  far,  far  off,  that  silver  place 
Where  God  stood  manifest  to  man  in  her.  .  .  . 
Fouling  himself.  .  .  .  One  thing  he  brought  to  her, 
At  least.  He  had  been  clean;  had  taken  it 
A  kind  of  point  of  honor  from  the  first. 
Others  might  wallow  but  he  didn't  care 
For  those  things.  .  .  . 

Suddenly  his  vision  cleared. 
And  something  seemed  to  grow  within  his  mind. 
Something  was  wrong— the  color  of  the  wall— 
The  queer  shape  of  the  bedposts— everything 
Was  changed,  somehow  ...  his  room.  Was  this  his  room? 

...  He  turned  his  head— and  saw  beside  him  there 

The  sagging  body's  slope,  the  paint-smeared  face, 

And  the  loose,  open  mouth,  lax  and  awry, 

The  breasts,  the  bleached  and  brittle  hair  .  .  .  these  things. 

...  As  if  all  Hell  were  crushed  to  one  bright  line 

Of  lightning  for  a  moment.  Then  he  sank, 

Prone  beneath  an  intolerable  weight. 

And  bitter  loathing  crept  up  all  his  limbs. 


IT  WAS  not  when  temptation  came, 
Swiftly  and  blastingly  as  flame, 
Ajid  seared  me  white  with  burning  scars; 
When  I  stood  up  for  age-long  wars 
And  held  the  very  Fiend  at  grips; 
When  all  my  mutinous  body  rose 
To  range  itself  beside  my  roes, 
And,  like  a  greyhound  in  the  slips, 
The  beast  that  dwells  within  me  roared, 
Lunging  and  straining  at  his  cord.  .  .  . 
For  all  the  blusterings  of  Hell, 
It  was  not  then  I  slipped  and  fell; 
For  all  the  storm,  for  all  the  hate, 
I  kept  my  soul  inviolate. 

But  when  the  fight  was  fought  and  won, 
And  there  was  Peace  as  still  as  Death 


On  everything  beneath  the  sun. 
Just  as  I  started  to  draw  breath, 
And  yawn,  and  stretch,  and  pat  myself, 
—The  grass  began  to  whisper  things— 
And  every  tree  became  an  elf, 
That  grinned  and  chuckled  counselings: 
Birds,  beasts,  one  thing  alone  they  said, 
Beating  and  dinning  at  my  head. 
I  could  not  fly.  I  could  not  shun  it. 
Slimily  twisting,  slow  and  blind, 
It  crept  and  crept  into  my  mind. 
Whispered  and  shouted,  sneered  and  laughed, 
Screamed  out  until  my  brain  was  daft, 
One  snaky  word,  "What  if  yotfd  done  it?" 
And  I  began  to  think  .  .  . 

Ah,  well, 

What  matter  how  I  slipped  and  fell? 
Or  you,  you  gutter-searcher,  say! 
Tell  where  you  found  me  yesterday! 


WELL,  I  was  tired  of  life;  the  silly  folk, 
The  tiresome  noises,  all  the  common  things 
I  loved  once,  crushed  me  with  an  i*on  yoke. 
I  longed  for  the  cool  quiet  and  the  dark, 
Under  the  common  sod  where  louts  and  kings 
Lie  down,  serene,  unheeding,  careless,  stark, 
Never  to  rise  or  move  or  feel  again, 
Filled  with  the  ecstasy  of  being  dead.  .  .  . 

I  put  the  shining  pistol  to  my  head 
And  pulled  the  trigger  hard— I  felt  no  pain, 
No  pain  at  all;  the  pistol  had  missed  fire 
I  thought;  then,  looking  at  the  floor,  I  saw 
My  huddled  body  lying  there— and  awe 
Swept  over  me.  I  trembled— and  looked  up. 
About  me  was— not  that,  my  heart's  desire, 
That  small  and  dark  abode  of  death  and  peace— 
But  all  from  which  I  sought  a  vain  release! 


The  sky,  the  people  and  the  staring  sun 

Glared  at  me  as  before.  I  was  undone. 

My  last  state  ten  times  worse  than  was  my  first. 

Helpless,  I  stood,  befooled,  betrayed,  accursed, 

Fettered  to  Life  forever,  horribly; 

Caught  in  the  meshes  of  Eternity, 

No  further  doors  to  break  or  bars  to  burst. 


(Eight  Sonnets  for  Donald  Malcolm  Campbell) 

STRIPPED  country,  shrunken  as  a  beggar's  heart, 
Inviolate  landscape,  hardened  into  steel, 
Where  the  cold  soil  shatters  under  heel 
Day  after  day  like  armor  cracked  apart. 

Winter  Connecticut,  whose  air  is  clean 
As  a  new  icicle  to  cut  the  throat, 
Whose  black  and  rigid  trees  will  not  demean 
Themselves  to  swagger  in  a  crystal  coat. 

I  hate  you  as  a  bastard  hates  his  name 
When  your  cramped  hills  are  hostile  with  the  white, 
But,  every  year,  when  March  comes  in  the  same, 
A  frozen  river  rolling  in  the  night, 

I  must  go  back  and  hunt  among  your  snow 
Something  I  lost  there,  much  too  long  ago. 

It  was  not  innocence,  it  was  not  scorn, 
And  yet  it  had  these  names  and  many  more. 
It  was  a  champion  blowing  on  a  horn, 
It  was  the  running  of  a  golden  boar. 

It  was  a  stallion,  trampling  the  skies 

To  rags  of  lightning  with  his  glittering  shoes* 

It  was  a  childish  god  with  lazy  eyes, 

It  was  an  indolent  and  reckless  Muse- 


More  than  all  these,  it  was  a  spirit  apart, 
Purely  of  fire  and  air  and  the  mind. 
No  fear  could  eat  the  temper  from  its  heart 
Nor  any  fleshly  bandage  make  it  blind. 

It  was  a  silver  dagger  in  the  blast. 

It  was  the  first  of  youth,  and  it  has  passed. 

I  left  it  in  a  bare  and  windy  street 
Between  two  sets  of  bells  whose  casual  chimes 
Answer  each  other,  janglingly  and  sweet, 
Like  the  concord  or  long-repeated  rhymes. 

I  left  it  in  a  since-demolished  bar, 
And  underneath  a  rain-streaked  paving-stone. 
And,  men  and  things  being  what  they  are, 
The  hidden  ghost  nad  better  couch  alone. 

I  shall  not  rattle  with  an  iron  fist 
The  relics,  scattered  into  sticks  of  chalk, 
Of  what  was  once  the  carcass  of  a  hawk 
That  sat  like  Wrath  on  an  archangel's  wrist. 

Nor  disinter,  to  make  my  house  look  smart, 
That  thunder-broken  and  ferocious  heart. 

Men  that  dig  up  a  mandrake  know  dis-ease. 
This  body  is  committed  to  its  bones 
Down  where  the  taproots  of  New  England  trees 
Suck  bare  existence  from  the  broken  stones. 

All  summer  cannot  quicken  it  with  heat, 
Nor  Spring  perturb  it  with  a  budding  bough, 
Nor  all  the  glittering  devils  of  the  sleet 
In  snowing  Winter  rack  its  quiet  now. 

But,  in  October,  when  the  apples  fall, 
And  leaves  begin  to  rust  before  the  cold, 


There  may  occur,  by  some  unnoticed  wall, 
A  sigh,  a  whisper  in  the  rotten  gold. 

A  breath  that  hardly  can  be  called  a  breath 
From  Death  that* will  not  yet  acknowledge  Death. 

Unnoticed— for  the  years  have  hardier  tasks 
Than  listening  to  a  whisper  or  a  sigh. 
They  creep  among  us  with  a  bag  or  masks 
And  fit  them  to  our  brows  obsequiously. 

Some  are  of  iron,  to  affront  the  gay, 
And  some  of  bronze,  to  satirize  the  brave, 
But  most  are  merely  a  compost  of  clay 
Cut  in  the  sleepy  features  of  a  slave. 

With  such  astuteness  do  they  counterfeit, 

We  do  not  realize  the  masks  are  on 

Till,  gaudy  in  our  folly,  bit  by  bit 

We  notice  that  a  neighbor's  face  seems  drawn. 

And  then,  with  fingers  turned  to  lumps  of  stone, 
Touch  the  inhuman  cast  that  was  our  own. 

There  is  no  doubt  such  workmanship  is  sage. 
The  bound  and  ordered  skies  could  not  abide 
A  creature  formed  of  elemental  rage 
For  longer  than  a  moment  of  its  pride. 

The  hand  that  stooped  to  Adam  from  the  cloud 
And  touched  his  members  with  a  fiery  spine 
Designed  as  well  the  pattern  of  the  shroud 
That  should  convince  him  he  was  not  divine. 

And  there  are  sorceries  more  excellent 
Than  the  first  conflagration  of  the  dust, 
But  none  are  quite  so  single  in  intent 
Or  unsophisticated  with  distrust. 


The  ripened  fruit  is  golden  to  the  core 
But  an  enchantment  fosters  it  no  more. 

Therefore,  in  neither  anguish  nor  relief, 

I  offer  to  the  shadow  in  the  air 

No  image  of  a  monumental  grief 

To  mock  its  transience  from  a  stony  chair, 

Nor  any  tablets  edged  in  rusty  black. 
Only  a  branch  of  maple,  gathered  high 
When  the  crisp  air  first  tastes  of  applejack, 
And  the  blue  smokes  of  Autumn  stain  the  sky. 

A  branch  whose  leaves  cling  to  the  withering  staff 
Like  precious  toys  of  gilt  and  scarlet  paint, 
An  emblem  Life  and  Death  share  half-and-half, 
A  brittle  sceptre  for  a  dying  saint. 

Unburning  fire,  an  insubstantial  Host, 
A  violence  dreamt,  a  beauty  of  the  ghost. 


So  much  in  memory.  For  the  future,  this. 
The  checkerboarded  house  of  Day  and  Night 
Is  but  a  cavern  where  a  swallow  flies 
To  beat  its  wings  an  instant  at  the  light 

And  then  depart,  where  the  incessant  storm 
Shepherds  the  planets  like  a  drunken  nurse. 
It  does  not  need  an  everlasting  form 
To  dignify  an  ecstasy  so  terse. 

But  while  the  swallow  fluttered  and  was  quick 
I  have  marked  down  its  passage  in  the  dark 
And  charred  its  image  on  a  broken  stick 
With  the  brief  flame  of  an  uncertain  spark. 

The  fire  can  have  it  now,  the  rain  can  rain  on  it 
And  the  ice  harden  like  a  god's  disdain  on  it. 



My  Fair  Lady 


/F  you  'were  gone  afar, 
And  lost  the  pattern 
Of  all  your  delightful  ways, 
And  the  web  undone, 
How  would  one  make  you  anew, 
From  what  dew  and  flowers, 
What  burning  and  mingled  atoms, 
Under  the  sun? 

Not  from  too-satin  roses, 

Or  those  rare  blossoms, 

Orchids,  scentless  and  precious 

As  precious  stone. 

But  out  of  lemon-verbena, 


These  alone. 

Not  with  running  horses, 

Or  Spanish  cannon, 

Organs,  voiced  like  a  lion, 

Clamor  and  speed. 

But  perhaps  with  old  music-boxes. 

Young,  tawny  kittens, 

Wild-strawberry  -seed. 

Even  so,  it  were  more 
Than  a  god  could  compass 
To  fashion  the  body  merely, 
The  lovely  shroud. 
But  then— ah,  how  to  recapture 


That  evanescence, 

The  fire  that  cried  in  pure  crystal 

Out  of  its  cloud! 


SHE'S  slender  hands  and  pretty  lips, 
And  seafoam  and  rosemary. 
Her  ears  are  pointed  at  the  tips, 
She  stayed  so  long  in  Fairy. 


SOME  people  have  names  like  pitchforks,  some  people  have  names 

like  cakes, 

Names  full  of  sizzling  esses  like  a  family  quarrel  of  snakes, 
Names  black  as  a  cat,  vermilion  as  the  cockscomb-hat  of  a  fool- 
But  your  name  is  a  green,  small  garden,  a  rush  asleep  in  a  pool. 

When  God  looked  at  the  diffident  cherubs  and  dropped  them  out 
of  the  sky, 

He  named  them  like  Adam's  animals,  while  Mary  and  Eve  stood 

The  poor  things  huddled  before  him  in  scared  little  naked  flocks 

—And  he  gave  you  a  name  like  sunlight,  and  clover,  and  holly- 

For  your  mouth  with  its  puzzled  jesting,  for  your  hair  like  a  dark 

soft  bird, 

Shy  humor  and  dainty  walking,  sweet  laughter  and  subtle  word, 
As  a  fairy  walks  with  a  mushroom  to  keep  the  rain  from  its  things 
You  carry  your  name  forever,  like  a  scepter  alive  with  wings. 

Neither  change  nor  despair  shall  touch  it  nor  the  seasons  make  it 

It  will  burn  like  an  Autumn  maple  when  your  proud  age  talks  to 

your  youth, 
Wise  child,  clean  friend,  adoration,  light  arrow  of  God,  white- 

I  would  break  my  body  to  pieces  to  call  you  once  by  your  name! 



MY  MIND'S  a  map.  A  mad  sea-captain  drew  it 
Under  a  flowing  moon  until  he  knew  it; 
Winds  with  brass  trumpets,  puffy-cheeked  as  jugs, 
And  states  bright-patterned  like  Arabian  rugs. 
"Here  there  be  tygers."  "Here  we  buried  Jim." 
Here  is  the  strait  where  eyeless  fishes  swim 
About  their  buried  idol,  drowned  so  cold 
He  weeps  away  his  eyes  in  salt  and  gold. 
A  country  like  the  dark  side  of  the  moon, 
A  cider-apple  country,  harsh  and  boon, 
A  country  savage  as  a  chestnut-rind, 
A  land  of  hungry  sorcerers. 

Your  mind? 

—Your  mind  is  water  through  an  April  night, 

A  cherry-branch,  plume-feathery  with  its  white, 

A  lavender  as  fragrant  as  your  words, 

A  room  where  Peace  and  Honor  talk  like  birds, 

Sewing  bright  coins  upon  the  tragic  cloth 

Of  heavy  Fate,  and  Mockery,  like  a  moth, 

Flutters  and  beats  about  those  lovely  things. 

You  are  the  soul,  enchanted  with  its  wings, 

The  single  voice  that  raises  up  the  dead 

To  shake  the  pride  of  angels. 

I  have  said. 


ROSEMARY,  Rosemary, 
There's  a  Pig  in  your  garden, 
With  silk  bristles  frizzy 
And  tushes  of  snow! 
But  Rosemary  was  cautious, 
^She  said,  "Beg  your  pardon! 
I'm  really  too  busy 
To  look  down  below." 


Rosemary,  Rosemary, 

There's  a  Bird  in  your  kitchen! 

His  voice  is  gold  water, 

He  says,  "Pretty  Poll!" 

But  Rosemary  heard  nothing, 

Putting  stitch  after  stitch  in 

The  dress  of  a  daughter, 

Her  thirty-sixth  doll. 

Rosemary,  Rosemary, 
A  silver-ringed  Rabbit! 
He  bridles  and  gentles 
And  wants  you  astride! 
"I  prefer,"  said  Rosemary, 
"To  ride  a  Good  Habit." 
She  went  buying  black  lentils- 
She  did  till  she  died. 


ROSEMARY,  Rosemary,  let  down  your  hair! 

The  cow's  in  the  hammock,  the  crow's  in  the  chair! 

I  was  making  you  songs  out  of  sawdust  and  silk, 

But  they  came  in  to  call  and  they  spilt  them  like  milk. 

The  cat's  in  the  coffee,  the  wind's  in  the  east, 
He  screams  like  a  peacock  and  whines  like  a  priest 
And  the  saw  of  his  voice  makes  my  blood  turn  to  mice— 
So  let  down  your  long  hair  and  shut  off  his  advice! 

Pluck  out  the  thin  hairpins  and  let  the  waves  stream, 
Brown-gold  as  brook-waters  that  dance  through  a  dream, 
Gentle-curie^  as  young  cloudlings,  sweet-fragrant  as  bay 
Till  it  takes  all  the  fierceness  of  living  away. 

Oh,  when  you  are  with  me,  my  heart  is  white  steel. 
But  the  bat's  in  the  belfry,  the  mold's  in  the  meal, 
And  I  think  I  hear  skeletons  climbing  the  stair! 
—Rosemary,  Rosemary,  let  down  your  bright  hair! 





NOT  where  the  sober  sisters,  grave  as  willows, 
Walk  like  old  twilights  by  the  jasper  sea, 
Nor  where  the  plump  hunt  of  cherubs  holly-hilloes 
Chasing  their  ruddy  fox,  the  sun,  you'll  be! 

Not  with  the  stained-glass  prophets,  bearded  grimly, 
Not  with  the  fledgling  saved,  meek  Wisdom's  lot, 
Kissing  a  silver  book  that  glimmers  dimly, 
For  acolytes  are  mild  and  you  are  not. 

They'll  give  you  a  curled  tuba,  tall  as  Rumor, 
They'll  sit  you  on  a  puff  of  Autumn  cloud, 
Gilded-fantastic  as  your  scorn  and  humor 
And  let  you  blow  that  tuba  much  too  loud. 

Against  the  unceasing  chant  to  sinless  Zion, 
Three  impudent  seraph  notes,  three  starry  coals, 
Sweet  as  wild  grass  and  happy  as  a  lion 
—And  all  the  saints  will  throw  you  aureoles. 


OVER  the  roof,  like  burnished  men, 

The  stars  tramp  high. 

You  blink— the  fire  blinks  back  again 

With  a  cock's  red  eye. 

Lay  your  book  away  to  doze, 

Say  your  silly  prayers, 

See  that  nothing  grabs  your  toes 

And  run  upstairs! 

Sandman  eyes  and  heavy  head, 
Sleep  comes  soon, 
Pouring  on  your  quiet  bed 
The  great,  cool  moon. 


Nod's  green  wheel  of  moss  turns  round, 
Dripping  dreams  and  peace, 
Gentle  as  a  pigeon's  sound, 
Soft  as  fleece. 

Think  of  warm  sheep  shuffling  home, 

Stones  sunk  deep, 

Bees  inside  a  honeycomb— 


Smile  as  when  young  Una  smiled, 

Hard  and  sweet  and  gay, 

Bitter  saint,  fantastic  child, 

Fold  your  wings  away. 

Dawn,  the  owl,  is  fluttering 

At  Day's  bright  bars. 

Night,  the  lame  man,  puttering, 

Puffs  out  the  stars. 

Wake!  and  hear  an  airy  shout 

Crack  the  egg  of  cloud, 

And  see  the  golden  bird  creep  out, 

Ruffling  and  proud. 


Now  the  day 
Burns  away. 
Most  austere 
Night  is  here 
—Time  for  sleep. 

And,  to  sleep, 
If  you  please, 
For  release 
Into  peace, 
Think  of  these. 

Snails  that  creep, 


Streams  that  flow, 
Bells  that  chime, 
Sweet— clear— c-o-o-1; 
Of  a  pool 
Hushed  so  still 
Stars  drowse  there, 
Of  a  hill 

Drenched  with  night, 
Drowned  with  moon's 
Lovely  light; 
Of  soft  tunes, 
Played  so  slow, 
Kind  and  low, 
You  sink  down, 
Into  down, 
Into  rest, 

Into  the  perfect  whiteness, 
The  drowsy,  drowsy  lightness, 
The  warm,  clean,  sleepy  feathers  of  a 
slumbering  bird's  white  breast. 


THE  trees  were  sugared  like  wedding-cake 
With  a  bright  hoar  frost,  with  a  very  cold  snow, 
When  we  went  begging  for  Jesus'  sake, 
Penniless  children,  years  ago. 

Diamond  weather— but  nothing  to  eat 

In  that  fine,  bleak  bubble  of  earth  and  skies. 

Nothing  alive  in  the  windy  street 

But  two  young  children  with  hungry  eyes. 

"We  must  go  begging  or  we  will  die. 
I  would  sell  my  soul  for  an  apple-core!" 
So  we  went  mendicant,  you  and  I, 
Knock-knock-knock  at  each  snow-choked  door. 


Knock-knock-knock  till  our  fingers  froze. 
Nobody  even  replied,  "Good  day!", 
Only  the  magistrate,  toasting  his  toes, 
Howled  at  us  sleepily,  "Go  away!" 

"Rosemary  dear,  what  shall  we  do?" 
"Stephen,  I  know  not.  Beseech  some  saint! 
My  nose  has  turned  to  an  icicle  blue, 
And  my  belly  within  me  is  very  faint." 

"If  there  be  saints,  they  are  fast  asleep, 
Lounging  in  Heaven,  in  wraps  of  feather." 
"Talk  not  so,  or  my  eyes  will  weep 
Till  the  ice-tears  rattle  and  clink  together." 

"Saints  are  many— on  which  shall  I  call? 
He  must  be  kindly,  without  constraint." 
"I  think  you  had  better  pray  to  Saint  Paul. 
I  have  heard  people  call  him  a  neighborly  saint." 

Down  he  flopped  on  his  cold,  bare  knees 
—Breath  that  smoked  in  the  bitter  air- 
Crossing  his  body  with  hands  afreeze, 
He  sought  Saint  Paul  in  a  vehement  prayer. 

Scarce  had  these  shiverers  piped,  "Amen," 
Cheeping  like  fledglings,  crying  for  bread, 
When  good  Saint  Paul  appeared  to  them  then, 
With  ai  wide  gold  halo  around  his  head. 

He  waved  his  episcopal  hand,  and  smiled, 
And  the  ground  was  spread  like  a  banquet-table! 
"Here  is  much  good  food  for  each  hungry  child, 
And  I  hoge  you  will  eat  as  long  as  you're  able. 

"Here  are  good,  thick  cloaks  for  your  ragged  backs, 
And  strong,  warm  boots  for  your  feet,"  said  he, 
"And  for  Stephen,  gloves  and  a  little  axe, 
And  a  little  fur  muff  for  Rosemary." 

They  thanked  him  humbly,  saying  a  Pater, 
Before  they  had  touched  a  morsel  even, 


But  he  said,  "Your  thanks  are  for  One  far  greater" 
And  pointed  his  right  arm  up  at  Heaven. 

"For  you  are  the  sparrows  around  God's  door, 
He  will  lift  you  up  like  His  own  great  banner. 
But  the  folk  who  made  you  suffer  so  sore- 
He  shall  deal  with  them  in  another  manner. 

"It  is  His  own  will  to  transport  those  folk 
To  a  region  of  infinite  ice  and  snow." 
And  his  breath  was  a  taper  of  incense-smoke, 
And  he  lifted  a  finger— and  it  was  so. 

And  the  folk  were  gone— and  the  saint  was  fled— 
And  we  stared  and  stared  at  the  wintry  land. 
And  in  front  of  us  there  was  a  banquet  spread. 
And  a  little  fur  muff  on  Rosemary's  hand. 


THE  bee,  he  has  white  honey, 
The  Sunday  child  her  muff, 
The  rich  man  lots  of  money 
Though  never  quite  enough, 
The  apple  has  a  Springtime  smell, 
The  star-fields  silver  grain, 
But  I  have  youth,  the  cockleshell, 
And  the  sweet  laugh  of  Jane. 

The  lark's  tune  goes  so  clearly 

But  Jane's  is  clear  wells. 

The  cuckoo's  voice  currs  cheerly, 

But  Jane's  is  new  bells. 

Whether  she  chuckles  like  a  dove, 

Or  laughs  like  April  rain, 

It  is  her  heart  and  hands  and  love, 

The  moth-wing  soul  of  Jane. 


WE  WERE  in  bed  by  nine,  but  she  did  not  hear  the  clock, 
She  lay  in  her  quiet  first  sleep,  soft-breathing,  head  by  her  arm, 
And  the  rising,  radiant  moon  spilled  silver  out  of  its  crock 
On  her  hair  and  forehead  and  eyes  as  we  rested,  gentle  and  warm. 

All  night  long  it  remained,  that  calm,  compassionate  sheet, 
All  the  long  night  it  wrapped  us  in  whiteness  like  ermine-fur, 
I  did  not  sleep  all  the  night,  but  lay,  with  wings  on  my  feet, 
Still,  the  cool  at  my  lips,  seeing  her,  worshipping  her. 

Oh,  the  bright  sparks  of  dawn  when  day  broke,  burning  and 


Oh,  the  first  waking  glance  from  her  sleepy,  beautiful  eyes! 
With  a  heart  and  a  mind  newborn  as  a  naked,  young,  golden 

I  took  her  into  my  arms.  We  saw  the  morning  arise! 


WHEN,  like  all  liberal  girls  and  boys, 
We  too  get  rid  of  sight 
—The  juggler  with  his  painted  toys 
The  elf  and  her  delight- 
In  the  cool  place  where  jests  are  few 
And  there's  no  time  to  weep 
For  all  the  untamed  hearts  we  knew 
Creeping  like  moths  to  sleep. 

This  eagerness  that  burns  us  yet 
Will  rot  like  summer  snow, 
And  we'll  forget  as  winds  forget 
When  they  have  ceased  to  blow. 

Oh,  we'll  grow  sleepy,  lacking  mirth! 
But  there  will  still  endure 
Somewhere,  like  innocence  and  earth, 
The  things  your  wish  made  pure. 

Wide  moonlight  on  a  harvest  dew, 
White  silk,  too  dear  to  touch, 
These  will  be  you  and  always  you 
When  I  am  nothing  much. 

The  flowers  with  the  hardy  eyes, 
The  bread  that  feeds  the  gods, 
These  will  be  you  till  Last  Assize 
When  I'm  improper  sods. 

Oh  dear  immortal,  while  you  can, 
Commit  one  mortal  sin. 
And  let  me  love  you  like  a  man 
Till  Judgment  Day  comes  in! 


THIS  is  only  the  shadow  of  what  she  was  once; 
The  rest  is  Honor's. 

Nevertheless,  O  Death,  be  humble  in  claiming 
Even  that  shadow. 


MY  WIFE'S  hands  are  long  and  thin, 

Fit  to  catch  a  spirit  in, 

Fit  to  set  a  subtle  snare 

For  something  lighter  than  the  air. 

My  brother's  hands  are  long  and  fine, 
Good  at  verse  and  pouring  wine, 
Good  to  spend  and  bad  to  hoard 
And  good  to  hold  a  singing  sword. 

My  own  hands  are  short  and  blunt 

Being  children  of  affront, 

Base  mechanics  at  the  most 

That  have  sometimes  touched  a  ghost. 


I  ask  between  the  running  sands, 
A  blessing  upon  four  hands, 
And  for  mine  an  iron  stake 
They  can  do  their  best  to  break. 

Now  God  the  Son  and  God  the  Sire 
And  God  the  triple-handed  fire, 
Make  these  blessings  come  to  be 
Out  of  your  civility 
For  four  hands  of  courtesy. 



They  can  have  the  names  and  the  dates, 
It  will  do  them  little  service. 
They  can  open  the  locked  chest 
And  steal  the  wine  and  the  gold. 
There  is  nothing  to  be  said 
But  this— the  clasp  of  her  body 
Was  better  than  milk  to  the  child 
Or  wisdom  to  the  old. 

We  die  with  our  first  breath. 
And,  if  we  die,  what  matter? 
There  was  a  ghost  in  the  flesh, 
A  ghost  that  went  and  came. 
Though  the  moon  burn  like  a  lamp 
It  will  not  be  that  brightness— 
I  said  her  name  in  my  sleep, 
Waking,  I  said  her  name. 



Ballads  and  Tales 


I  HAVE  fallen  in  love  with  American  names, 
The  sharp  names  that  never  get  fat, 
The  snakeskin-titles  of  mining-claims, 
The  plumed  war-bonnet  of  Medicine  Hat, 
Tucson  and  Deadwood  and  Lost  Mule  Flat. 

Seine  and  Piave  are  silver  spoons, 
But  the  spoonbowl-metal  is  thin  and  worn, 
There  are  English  counties  like  hunting-tunes 
Played  on  the  keys  of  a  postboy's  horn, 
But  I  will  remember  where  I  was  born. 

I  will  remember  Carquinez  Straits, 
Little  French  Lick  and  Lundy's  Lane, 
The  Yankee  ships  and  the  Yankee  dates 
And  the  bullet-towns  of  Calamity  Jane. 
I  will  remember  Skunktown  Plain. 

I  will  fall  in  love  with  a  Salem  tree 
And  a  rawhide  quirt  from  Santa  Cruz, 
I  will  get  me  a  bottle  of  Boston  sea 
And  a  blue-gum  nigger  to  sing  me  blues. 
I  am  tired  of  loving  a  foreign  muse. 

Rue  des  Martyrs  and  Bleeding-Heart-Yard, 
Senlis,  Pisa,  and  Blindman's  Oast, 
It  is  a  magic  ghost  you  guard 
But  I  am  sick  for  a  newer  ghost, 
Harrisburg,  Spartanburg,  Painted  Post. 


Henry  and  John  were  never  so 

And  Henry  and  John  were  always  right? 

Granted,  but  when  it  was  time  to  go 

And  the  tea  and  the  laurels  had  stood  all  night, 

Did  they  never  watch  for  Nantucket  Light? 

I  shall  not  rest  quiet  in  Montparnasse. 
I  shall  not  lie  easy  at  Winchelsea. 
You  may  bury  my  body  in  Sussex  grass, 
You  may  bury  my  tongue  at  Champmedy. 
I  shall  not  be  there.  I  shall  rise  and  pass. 
Bury  my  heart  at  Wounded  Knee. 



MY  FATHER,  he  was  a  mountaineer, 

His  fist  was  a  knotty  hammer; 

He  was  quick  on  his  feet  as  a  running  deer, 

And  he  spoke  with  a  Yankee  stammer. 

My  mother,  she  was  merry  and  brave, 
And  so  she  came  to  her  labor, 
With  a  tall  green  fir  for  her  doctor  grave 
And  a  stream  for  her  comforting  neighbor. 

And  some  are  wrapped  in  the  linen  fine, 
And  some  like  a  godling's  scion; 
But  I  was  cradled  on  twigs  of  pine 
In  the  skin  of  a  mountain  lion. 

And  some  remember  a  white,  starched  lap 
And  a  ewer  with  silver  handles; 
But  I  remember  a  coonskin  cap 
And  the  smell  of  bayberry  candles. 

The  cabin  logs,  with  the  bark  still  rough, 
And  my  mother  who  laughed  at  trifles, 
And  the  tall,  lank  visitors,  brown  as  snuff, 
With  their  long,  straight  squirrel-rifles. 


I  can  hear  them  dance,  like  a  foggy  song, 
Through  the  deepest  one  of  my  slumbers, 
The  fiddle  squeaking  the  boots  along 
And  my  father  calling  the  numbers. 

The  quick  feet  shaking  the  puncheon-floor, 
And  the  fiddle  squealing  and  squealing, 
Till  the  dried  herbs  rattled  above  the  door 
And  the  dust  went  up  to  the  ceiling. 

There  are  children  lucky  from  dawn  till  dusk, 

But  never  a  child  so  lucky! 

For  I  cut  my  teeth  on  "Money  Musk" 

In  the  Bloody  Ground  of  Kentucky! 

When  I  grew  tall  as  the  Indian  corn, 
My  father  had  little  to  lend  me, 
But  he  gave  me  his  great,  old  powder-horn 
And  his  woodsman's  skill  to  befriend  me. 

With  a  leather  shirt  to  cover  my  back, 
And  a  redskin  nose  to  unravel 
Each  forest  sign,  I  carried  my  pack 
As  far  as  a  scout  could  travel 

Till  I  lost  my  boyhood  arid  found  my  wife, 
A  girl  like  a  Salem  clipper! 
A  woman  straight  as  a  hunting-knife 
With  eyes  as  bright  as  the  Dipper! 

We  cleared  our  camp  where  the  buffalo  feed, 
Unheard-of  streams  were  our  flagons; 
And  I  sowed  my  sons  like  the  apple-seed 
On  the  trail  of  the  Western  wagons. 

They  were  right,  tight  boys,  never  sulky  or  slow, 
A  fruitful,  a  goodly  muster. 
The  eldest  died  at  the  Alamo. 
The  youngest  fell  with  Custer. 

The  letter  that  told  it  burned  my  hand. 
Yet  we  smiled  and  said,  "So  be  it!" 


But  I  could  not  live  when  they  fenced  the  land, 
For  it  broke  my  heart  to  see  it. 

I  saddled  a  red,  unbroken  colt 

And  rode  him  into  the  day  there; 

And  he  threw  me  down  like  a  thunderbolt 

And  rolled  on  me  as  I  lay  there. 

The  hunter's  whistle  hummed  in  my  ear 
As  the  city-men  tried  to  move  me, 
And  I  died  in  my  boots  like  a  pioneer 
With  the  whole  wide  sky  above  me. 

Now  I  lie  in  the  heart  of  the  fat,  black  soil, 
Like  the  seed  of  a  prairie-thistle; 
It  has  washed  my  bones  with  honey  and  oil 
And  picked  them  clean  as  a  whistle. 

And  my  youth  returns,  like  the  rains  of  Spring, 
And  my  sons,  like  the  wild-geese  flying; 
And  I  lie  and  hear  the  meadow-lark  sing 
And  have  much  content  in  my  dying. 

Go  play  with  the  towns  you  have  built  of  blocks, 
The  towns  where  you  would  have  bound 
I  sleep  in  my  earth  like  a  tired  fox, 
And  my  buffalo  have  found  me. 



I.  The  Planting  of  the  Hemp 

CAPTAIN  HAWK  scourged  clean  the  seas 
(Black  is  the  gap  below  the  pldnk) 
From  the  Great  North  Bank  to  the  Caribbees. 
(Down  by  the  marsh  the  hemp  grows  rank.) 

His  fear  was  on  the  seaport  towns, 

The  weight  of  his  hand  held  hard  the  downs. 

And  the  merchants  cursed  him,  bitter  and  black, 

For  a  red  flame  in  the  sea-fog's  wrack 

Was  all  of  their  ships  that  might  come  back. 

For  all  he  had  one  word  alone. 

One  clod  of  dirt  in  their  faces  thrown, 

"The  hemp  that  shall  hang  me  is  not  grown!" 

His  name  bestrode  the  seas  like  Death, 
The  waters  trembled  at  his  breath. 

This  is  the  tale  of  how  he  fell, 

Of  the  long  sweep  and  the  heavy  swell, 

And  the  rope  that  dragged  him  down  to  hell. 

The  fight  was  done,  and  the  gutted  ship, 
Stripped  like  a  shark  the  sea-gulls  strip, 

Lurched  blindly,  eaten  out  with  flame, 
Back  to  the  land  from  whence  she  came, 
A  skimming  horror,  an  eyeless  shame. 

And  Hawk  stood  up  on  his  quarter-deck, 
And  saw  the  sky  and  saw  the  wreck. 

Below,  a  butt  for  sailors'  jeers, 

White  as  the  sky  when  a  white  squall  nears, 

Huddled  the  crowd  of  the  prisoners. 

Over  the  bridge  of  the  tottering  plank, 

Where  the  sea  shook  and  the  gulf  yawned  blank, 

They  shrieked  and  struggled  and  dropped  and  sank. 

Pinioned  arms  and  hands  bound  fast. 
One  girl  alone  was  left  at  last. 

Sir  Henry  Gaunt  was  a  mighty  lord. 
He  sat  in  state  at  the  Council  board. 

The  governors  were  as  naught  to  him. 
From  one  rim  to  the  other  rim 
Of  his  great  plantations,  flung  out  wide 
Like  a  purple  cloak,  was  a  full  month's  ride. 

Life  and  death  in  his  white  hands  lay, 
And  his  only  daughter  stood  at  bay, 
Trapped  like  a  hare  in  the  toils  that  day. 

He  sat  at  wine  in  his  gold  and  his  lace, 

And  far  away,  in  a  bloody  place, 

Hawk  came  near,  and  she  covered  her  face. 

He  rode  in  the  fields,  and  the  hunt  was  brave, 
And  far  away,  his  daughter  gave 
A  shriek  that  the  seas  cried  out  to  hear, 
And  he  could  not  see  and  he  could  not  save. 

Her  white  soul  withered  in  the  mire 

As  paper  shrivels  up  in  fire, 

And  Hawk  laughed,  and  he  kissed  her  mouth, 

And  her  body  he  took  for  his  desire. 

77.  The  Growing  of  the  Hemp 

Sir  Henry  stood  in  the  manor  room, 

And  his  eyes  were  hard  gems  in  the  gloom. 

And  he  said,  "Go,  dig  me  furrows  five 
Where  the  green  .marsh  creeps  like  a  thing  alive- 
There  at  its  edge  where  the  rushes  thrive." 

And  where  the  furrows  rent  the  ground 
He  sowed  the  seed  of  hemp  around. 

And  the  blacks  shrink  back  and  are  sore  afraid 
At  the  furrows  five  that  rib  the  glade, 
And  the  voodoo  work  of  the  master's  spade. 


For  a  cold  wind  blows  from  the  marshland  near, 
And  white  things  move,  and  the  night  grows  drear, 
And  they  chatter  and  crouch  and  are  sick  with  fear. 

But  down  by  the  marsh,  where  the  grey  slttves  glean, 
The  hemp  sprouts  up,  and  the  earth  is  seen 
Veiled  with  a  tenuous  mist  of  green. 

And  Hawk  still  scourges  the  Caribbees, 
And  many  men  kneel  at  his  knees. 

Sir  Henry  sits  in  his  house  alone, 

And  his  eyes  are  hard  and  dull  like  stone. 

And  the  waves  beat,  and  the  winds  roar, 
And  all  things  are  as  they  were  before. 

And  the  days  pass,  and  the  weeks  pass, 
And  nothing  changes  but  the  grass. 

But  down  where  the  fireflies  are  like  eyes, 
And  the  damps  shudder,  and  the  mists  rise, 
The  hemp-stalks  stand  up  toward  the  skies. 

And  down  from  the  poop  of  the  pirate  ship 
A  body  falls,  and  the  great  sharks  grip. 

Innocent,  lovely,  go  in  gnace! 

At  last  there  is  peace  upon  your  face. 

And  Hawk  laughs  loud  as  the  corpse  is  thrown, 
"The  hemp  that  shall  hang  me  is  not  grown!" 

Sir  Henry's  face  is  iron  to  mark, 
And  he  gazes  ever  in  the  dark. 

And  the  days  pass,  and  the  weeks  pass, 
And  the  world  is  as  it  always  was. 

But  down  by  the  marsh  the  sickles  beam, 

Glitter  on  glitter,  gleam  on  gleam. 

And  the  hemp  falls  down  by  the  stagnant  stream. 

And  Hawk  beats  up  from  the  Caribbees, 
Swooping  to  pounce  in  the  Northern  seas. 


Sir  Henry  sits  sunk  deep  in  his  chair, 
And  white  as  his  hand  is  grown  his  hair. 

And  the  days  pass,  and  the  weeks  pass, 
And  the  sands  roll  from  the  hourglass. 

But  down  by  the  marsh,  in  the  blazing  sun, 
The  hemp  is  smoothed  and  twisted  and  spun. 
The  rope  made,  and  the  work  done. 

111.  The  Using  of  the  Hemp 

Captain  Hawk  scourged  clean  the  seas, 
(Black  is  the  gap  below  the  plank) 
From  the  Great  North  Bank  to  the  Caribbees. 
(Down  by  the  marsh  the  hemp  grows  rank.) 

He  sailed  in  the  broad  Atlantic  track 

And  the  ships  that  saw  him  came  not  back. 

Till  once  again,  where  the  wide  tides  ran, 
He  stopped  to  harry  a  merchantman. 

He  bade  her  stop.  Ten  guns  spoke  true 
From  her  hidden  ports,  and  a  hidden  crew, 
Lacking  his  great  ship  through  and  through. 

Dazed  and  dumb  with  the  sudden  death, 
He  scarce  had  time  to  draw  a  breath 

Before  the  grappling-irons  bit  deep 

And  the  boarders  slew  his  crew  like  sheep. 

Hawk  stood  up  straight,  his  breast  to  the  steel; 
His  cutlass  made  a  bloody  wheel. 

His  cutlass  made  a  'wheel  of  flame. 
They  shrank  before  him  as  he  came. 

And  the  bodies  fell  in  a  choking  crowd, 
And  still  he  thundered  out  aloud, 


hemp  that  shall  hang  me  is  not  grown!" 
They  fled  at  last.  He  was  left  alone. 

Before  his  foe  Sir  Henry  stood. 

"The  hemp  is  grown  and  my  word  made  good! " 

And  the  cutlass  clanged  with  a  hissing  whir 
On  the  lashing  blade  of  the  rapier. 

Hawk  roared  and  charged  like  a  maddened  buck. 
As  the  cobra  strikes,  Sir  Henry  struck, 

Pouring  his  life  in  a  single  thrust, 

And  the  cutlass  shivered  to  sparks  and  dust. 

Sir  Henry  stood  on  the  blood-stained  deck, 
And  set  his  foot  on  his  foe's  neck. 

Then,  from  the  hatch,  where  the  torn  decks  slope, 
Where  the  dead  roll  and  the  wounded  grope, 
He  dragged  the  serpent  of  the  rope. 

The  sky  was  blue  and  the  sea  was  still, 
The  waves  lapped  softly,  hill  on  hill, 
And  between  one  wave  and  another  wave 
The  doomed  man's  cries  were  little  and  shrill. 

The  sea  was  blue  and  the  sky  was  calm, 
The  air  dripped  with  a  golden  balm. 
Like  a  wind-blown  fruit  between  sea  and  sun, 
A  black  thing  writhed  at  a  yard-arm. 

Slowly  then,  and  awesomely, 
The  ship  sank,  and  the  gallows-tree, 
And  there  was  nought  between  sea  and  sun- 
Nought  but  the  sun  and  the  sky  and  the  sea. 

But  doim  by  the  marsh,  wher&  the  fever  breeds, 
Only  the  water  chuckles  and  pleads; 
For  the  hemp  clings  fast  to  a  dead  marts  throat, 
And  blind  Fate  gathers  back  her  seeds. 




(A  Georgia  Romance) 

UP  IN  the  mountains,  it's  lonesome  all  the  time, 
(Sof  win'  slewin'  thu'  the  sweet-potato  vine). 

Up  in  the  mountains,  it's  lonesome  for  a  child, 
(Whippoorwills  a-callin'  when  the  sap  runs  wild). 

Up  in  the  mountains,  mountains  in  the  fog, 
Everything  as  lazy  as  an  old  houn'  dog. 

Born  in  the  mountains,  never  raised  a  pet, 
Don't  want  nuthin'  an'  never  got  it  yet. 

Born  in  the  mountains,  lonesome-born, 

Raised  runnin'  ragged  thu'  the  cockleburrs  and  corn. 

Never  knew  my  pappy,  mebbe  never  should. 
Think  he  was  a  fiddle  made  of  mountain  laurel-wood. 

Never  had  a  mammy  to  teach  me  pretty-please. 
Think  she  was  a  whippoorwill,  a-skitin'  thu'  the  trees. 

Never  had  a  brother  ner  a  whole  pair  of  pants, 

But  when  I  start  to  fiddle,  why,  yuh  got  to  start  to  dance! 

Listen  to  my  fiddle— Kingdom  Come—Kingdom  Come! 
Hear  the  frogs  a-chunkirf  "Jug  d*  rum,  Jug  0'  niw!" 
Hear  that  mountain-vohippoorivill  be  lonesome  in  the  air. 
An*  ril  tell  yuh  hoiv  I  traveled  to  the  Essex  County  Fair. 

Essex  County  has  a  mighty  pretty  fair, 

All  the  smarty  fiddlers  from  the  South  come  there. 

Elbows  flyin'  as  they  rosin  up  the  bow 

For  the  First  Prize  Contest  in  the  Georgia  Fiddlers'  Show. 


Old  Dan  Wheeling,  with  his  whiskers  in  his  ears, 
King-pin  fiddler  for  nearly  twenty  years. 

Big  Tom  Sargent,  with  his  blue  wall-eye, 

An'  Little  Jimmy  Weezer  that  can  make  a  fiddle  cry. 

All  sittirf  rouri,  spittitf  high  an*  struttir?  proud, 
(Listen,  little  whippoorwill,  yuh  better  bug  yore  eyes!) 
Tun-a-tun-a-tmirt  while  the  jedges  told  the  crowd 
Them  that  got  the  wostest  claps' d  win  the  bestest  prize. 

Everybody  waitin*  for  the  first  tweedle-dee, 
When  in  comes  a-stumblin'— hill-billy  me! 

Bowed  right  pretty  to  the  jedges  an'  the  rest, 
Took  a  silver  dollar  from  a  hole  inside  my  vest, 

Plunked  it  on  the  table  an'  said,  "There's  my  callin'  card! 
An'  anyone  that  licks  me— well,  he's  got  to  nddle  hard!" 

Old  Dan  Wheeling,  he  was  laughin'  fit  to  holler, 
Little  Jimmy  Weezer  said,  ''There's  one  dead  dollar!" 

Big  Tom  Sargent  had  a  yaller-toothy  grin, 

But  I  tucked  my  little  whippoorwill  spang  underneath  my  chin, 

An'  petted  it  an'  tuned  it  till  the  jedges  said,  "Begin!" 

Big  Tom  Sargent  was  the  first  in  line; 

He  could  fiddle  all  the  bugs  off  a  sweet-potato  vine. 

He  could  fiddle  down  a  possum  from  a  mile-high  tree. 
He  could  fiddle  up  a  whale  from  the  bottom  of  the  sea. 

Yuh  could  hear  hands  spankin'  till  they  spanked  each  other  raw, 
When  he  finished  variations  on  "Turkey  in  the  Straw." 

Little  Jimmy  Weezer  was  the  next  to  play; 

He  could  fiddle  all  night,  he  could  fiddle  all  day. 

He  could  fiddle  chills,  he  could  fiddle  fever, 
He  could  make  a  fiddle  rustle  like  a  lowland  river. 


He  could  make  a  fiddle  croon  like  a  lovin'  woman. 

An*  they  clapped  like  thunder  when  he'd  finished  strummin'. 

Then  came  the  ruck  of  the  bob-tailed  fiddlers, 
The  let's  go-easies,  the  fair-to-middlers. 

They  got  their  claps  an'  they  lost  their  bicker, 
An'  settled  back  for  some  more  corn-licker. 

An'  the  crowd  was  tired  of  their  no-count  squealing, 
When  out  in  the  center  steps  Old  Dan  Wheeling. 

He  fiddled  high  and  he  fiddled  low, 

(Listen,  little  whippoorwill;  yuh  got  to  spread  yore  wings!) 

tie  fiddled  with  a  cherrywood  bow. 

(Old  Dan  Wheelings  got  bee-honey  in  his  strings.) 

He  fiddled  the  wind  by  the  lonesome  moon, 
He  fiddled  a  most  almighty  tune. 

He  started  fiddling  like  a  ghost, 
He  ended  fiddling  like  a  host. 

He  fiddled  north  an'  he  fiddled  south, 

He  fiddled  the  heart  right  out  of  yore  mouth. 

He  fiddled  here  an'  he  fiddled  there. 
He  fiddled  salvation  everywhere. 

When  he  was  finished,  the  crowd  cut  loose, 
(W hippo orwill,  they's  rain  on  yore  breast.) 
Arf  I  sat  there  wondering  "What's  the  use?" 
(Whippoorwill,  fly  home  to  yore  nest.) 

But  I  stood  up  pert  an'  I  took  my  bow, 
An'  my  fiddle  went  to  my  shoulder,  so. 

An'— they  wasn't  no  crowd  to  get  me  fazed— 
But  I  was  alone  where  I  was  raised. 


Up  in  the  mountains,  so  still  it  makes  yuh  skeered. 
Where  God  lies  sleepin'  in  his  big  white  beard. 


An"  I  heard  the  sound  of  the  squirrel  in  the  pine, 
An'  I  heard  the  earth  a-breathin'  thu'  the  long  night-i 


They've  fiddled  the  rose,  an'  they've  fiddled  the  thorn, 
But  they  haven't  fiddled  the  mountain-corn. 

They've  fiddled  sinful  an'  fiddled  moral, 

But  they  haven't  fiddled  the  breshwood-laurel. 

They've  fiddled  loud,  an'  they've  fiddled  still, 
But  they  haven't  fiddled  the  whippoorwill. 

I  started  off  with  a  dump-diddle-dump, 
(Oh,  keifs  broke  loose  in  Georgia!) 
Skunk-cabbage  growin'  by  the  bee-gum  stump, 
(Whippoorwill,  yo're  singitf  now!) 

Oh,  Georgia  booze  is  mighty  fine  booze, 
The  best  yuh  ever  poured  yuh, 
But  it  eats  the  soles  right  offen  yore  shoes, 
For  Hell's  broke  loose  in  Georgia. 

My  mother  was  a  whippoorwill  pert, 
My  father,  he  was  lazy, 
But  I'm  Hell  broke  loose  in  a  n^w  store  shirt 
To  fiddle  all  Georgia  crazy. 

Swing  yore  partners— up  an'  down  the  middle! 

Sashay  now—oh,  listen  to  that  fiddle! 

Flapjacks  flippin'  on  a  red-hot  griddle, 

An'  hell  broke  loose, 

Hell  broke  loose, 

Fire  on  the  mountains— snakes  in  the  grass. 

Satan's  here  a-bilin'— oh,  Lordy,  let  him  pass! 

Go  down  Moses,  set  my  people  free, 

Pop  goes  the  weasel  thu'  the  old  Red  Sea! 

Jonah  sittin'  on  a  hickory-bough, 

Up  jumps  a  whale— an'  where's  yore  prophet  now? 

Rabbit  in  the  pea-patch,  possum  in  the  pot, 

Try  an'  stop  my  fiddle,  now  my  fiddle's  gettin'  hot! 

Whippoorwill,  singin'  thu'  the  mountain  hush, 

Whippoorwill,  shoutin'  from  the  burnin'  bush, 


Whippoorwill,  cryin'  in  the  stable-door, 

Sing  to-night  as  yuh  never  sang  before! 

Hell's  broke  loose  like  a  stompin'  mountain-shoat, 

Sing  till  yuh  bust  the  gold  in  yore  throat! 

Hell's  broke  loose  for  forty  miles  aroun' 

Bound  to  stop  yore  music  if  yuh  don't  sing  it  down. 

Sing  on  the  mountains,  little  whippoorwill, 

Sing  to  the  valleys,  an'  slap  'em  with  a  hill, 

For  I'm  struttin'  high  as  an  eagle's  quill, 

An'  Hell's  broke  loose, 

Hell's  broke  loose, 

Hell's  broke  loose  in  Georgia! 

They  wasn't  a  sound  when  I  stopped  bowin', 
(Whippoorwill^  yuh  can  sing  no  more.) 
But,  somewhere  or  other,  the  dawn  was  growing 
(Oh,  mountain  whippoorwill!) 

An'  I  thought,  "I've  fiddled  all  night  an'  lost. 
Yo're  a  good  hill-billy,  but  yuh've  been  bossed.* 

So  I  went  to  congratulate  old  man  Dan, 
—But  he  put  his  fiddle  into  my  han'— 
An'  then  the  noise  of  the  crowd  began. 


DAVID  sang  to  his  hook-nosed  harp: 
"The  Lord  God  is  a  jealous  God! 
His  violent  vengeance  is  swift  and  sharp! 
And  the  Lord  is  King  above  all  gods! 

"Blest  be  the  Lord,  through  years  untold, 
The  j^ord  Who  has  blessed  me  a  thousand  fold! 

"Cattle  and  concubines,  corn  and  hives 
Enough  to  last  me  a  dozen  lives. 

"Plump,  good  women  with  noses  flat, 
Marrowful  blessings,  weighty  and  fat. 


"I  wax  in  His  peace  like  a  pious  gourd, 
The  Lord  God  is  a  pleasant  God, 
Break  mine  enemy's  jaw,  O  Lord! 
For  the  Lord  is  King  above  all  gods!" 

His  hand  dropped  slack  from  the  tunable  strings, 
A  sorrow  came  on  him—a  sorrow  of  kings. 

A  sorrow  sat  on  the  arm  of  his  throne, 
An  eagle  sorrow  with  claws  of  stone. 

"I  am  merry,  yes,  when  I  am  not  thinking, 
But  life  is  nothing  but  eating  and  drinking. 

"I  can  shape  my  psalms  like  daggers  of  jade, 
But  they  do  not  shine  like  the  first  I  made. 

"I  can  harry  the  heathen  from  North  to  South, 
But  no  hot  taste  comes  into  my  mouth. 

"My  wives  are  comely  as  long-haired  goats, 
But  I  would  not  care  if  they  cut  their  throats! 

"Where  are  the  maids  of  the  desert  tents 
With  lips  like  flagons  of  frankincense? 

"Where  is  Jonathan?  Where  is  Saul? 
The  captain-towers  of  Zion  wall? 

"The  trees  of  cedar,  the  hills  of  Nod, 
The  kings,  the  running  lions  of  God? 

"Their  words  were  a  writing  in  golden  dust, 
Their  names  are  myrrh  in  the  mouths  of  the  just. 

"The  sword  of  the  slayer  could  never  divide  them- 
Would  God  I  had  died  in  battle  beside  them!" 

The  Lord  looked  down  from  a  thunder-clap. 
(The  Lord  God  is  a  crafty  God.) 
He  heard  the  strings  of  the  shrewd  harp  snap. 
(The  Lord  Who  is  King  above  all  gods.) 

He  pricked  the  king  with  an  airy  thorn, 
It  burnt  in  his  body  like  grapes  of  scorn. 

The  eyelids  roused  that  had  drooped  like  lead. 
David  lifted  his  heavy  head. 

The  thorn  stung  at  him,  a  fiery  bee, 

"The  world  is  wide.  I  will  go  and  see 

From  the  roof  of  my  haughty  palace,"  said  he. 

Bathsheba  bathed  on  her  vine-decked  roof. 
(The  Lord  God  is  a  mighty  God.) 
Her  body  glittered  like  mail  of  proof. 
(And  the  Lord  is  King  above  all  gods.) 

Her  body  shimmered,  tender  and  white 
As  the  flesh  of  aloes  in  candlelight. 

King  David  forgot  to  be  old  or  wise. 
He  spied  on  her  bathing  with  sultry  eyes. 

A  breath  of  spice  came  into  his  nose. 

He  said,  "Her  breasts  are  like  two  young  roes." 

His  eyes  were  bright  with  a  crafty  gleam. 
He  thought,  "Her  body  is  soft  as  cream." 

He  straightened  himself  like  an  unbent  bow 
And  called  a  servant  and  bade  him  go. 

Uriah  the  Hittite  came  to  his  lord, 
Dusty  with  war  as  a  well-used  sword. 

A  close,  trim  man  like  a  belt,  well-buckled; 
A  jealous  gentleman,  hard  to  cuckold. 

David  entreated  him,  soft  and  bland, 
Offered  him  comfits  from  his  own  hand. 


Drank  with  him  deep  till  his  eyes  grew  red, 
And  laughed  in  his  beard  as  he  went  to  bed. 

The  days  slipped  by  without  hurry  or  strife, 
Like  apple-parings  under  a  knife, 
And  still  Uriah  kept  from  his  wife. 

Lean  fear  tittered  through  David's  psalm, 
"This  merry  husband  is  far  too  calm." 

David  sent  for  Uriah  then, 

They  greeted  each  other  like  pious  men. 

"Thou  hast  borne  the  battle,  the  dust  and  the  heat. 
Go  down  to  thy  house  and  wash  thy  feet! " 

Uriah  frowned  at  the  words  of  the  king. 
His  brisk,  hard  voice  had  a  leaden  ring. 

"While  the  hosts  of  God  still  camp  in  the  field 
My  house  to  me  is  a  garden  sealed. 

"How  shall  I  rest  while  the  arrow  yet  flies? 
The  dust  of  the  war  is  still  in  my  eyes." 

David  spoke  with  his  lion's  roar: 

"If  Peace  be  a  bridle  that  rubs  you  sore, 

You  shall  fill  your  belly  with  blood  and  war!" 

Uriah  departed,  calling  him  kind. 

His  eyes  were  serpents  in  David's  mind. 

He  summoned  a  captain,  a  pliable  man, 
"Uriah  the  Hittite  shall  lead  the  van. 

"In  the  next  assault,  when  the  fight  roars  high, 
And  the  Lord  God  is  a  hostile  God, 
Retire  from  Uriah  that  he  may  die. 
the  Lord  is  King  above  all  gods." 

The  messenger  came  while  King  David  played 
The  friskiest  ditty  ever  made. 


"News,  O  King,  from  our  dubious  war! 
The  Lord  of  Hosts  hath  prevailed  once  more! 

"His  foes  are  scattered  like  chirping  sparrows, 
Their  kings  lie  breathless,  feathered  with  arrows. 

"Many  are  dead  of  your  captains  tall. 
Uriah  the  Hittite  was  first  to  fall." 

David  turned  from  the  frolicsome  strings 
And  rent  his  clothes  for  the  death  of  kings. 

Yet,  as  he  rent  them,  he  smiled  for  joy. 
The  sly,  wide  smile  of  a  wicked  boy. 

"The  powerful  grace  of  the  Lord  prevails! 
He  has  cracked  Uriah  between  His  nails! 

"His  blessings  are  mighty,  they  shall  not  cease. 
And  my  days  henceforth  shall  be  days  of  peace!" 

His  mind  grew  tranquil,  smoother  than  fleece. 

He  rubbed  his  body  with  scented  grease. 

And  his  days  thenceforward  were  days  of  peace. 

His  days  were  fair  as  the  flowering  lime 
—For  a  little  time,  for  a  little  time. 

And  Bathsheba  lay  in  his  breast  like  a  dove, 
A  vessel  of  amber,  made  for  love. 

When  Bathsheba  was  great  with  child, 
(The  Lord  God  is  a  jealous  God!) 
Portly  and  meek  as  a  moon  grown  mild, 
(The  Lord  is  King  above  all  gods!) 

Nathan,  the  prophet,  wry  and  dying, 
Preached  to  the  king  like  a  locust  crying: 

"Hearken  awhile  to  a  doleful  thing! 
There  were  two  men  in  thy  land,  O  King! 


"One  was  rich  as  a  gilded  ram. 

One  had  one  treasure,  a  poor  ewe-lamb. 

"Rich  man  wasted  his  wealth  like  spittle. 
Poor  man  shared  with  his  lamb  spare  victual. 

"A  traveler  came  to  the  rich  man's  door. 
'Give  me  to  eat,  for  I  hunger  sore!' 

"Rich  man  feasted  him  fatly,  true, 

But  the  meat  that  he  gave  him  was  fiend's  meat,  too, 

Stolen  and  roasted,  the  poor  man's  ewe! 

"Hearken,  my  lord,  to  a  deadly  thing! 

What  shall  be  done  with  these  men,  O  King?" 

David  hearkened,  seeing  it  plain, 

His  heart  grew  heavy  with  angry  pain: 

"Show  me  the  rich  man  that  he  be  slain!" 

Nathan  barked  as  a  jackal  can. 

"Just,  O  King!  And  thou  art  the  man!" 

David  rose  as  the  thunders  rise 

When  someone  in  Heaven  is  telling  lies. 

But  his  eyes  were  weaker  than  Nathan's  eyes. 

His  huge  bulk  shivered  like  quaking  sod, 
Shoulders  bowing  to  Nathan's  rod, 
Nathan,  the  bitter  apple  of  God. 

His  great  voice  shook  like  a  runner's,  spent, 
"My  sin  has  found  me!  Oh,  I  repent!" 

Answered  Nathan,  that  talkative  Jew: 
"For  many  great  services,  comely  and  true, 
The  Lord  of  Mercy  will  pardon  you. 

"But  the  child  in  Bathsheba,  come  of  your  seed, 
Shall  sicken  and  die  like  a  blasted  weed." 

David  groaned  when  he  heard  him  speak. 
The  painful  tears  ran  hot  on  his  cheek. 


Ashes  he  cast  on  his  kingly  locks. 
All  night  long  he  lay  on  the  rocks. 

Beseeching  his  Lord  with  a  howling  cry: 
"O  Lord  God,  O  my  jealous  God, 
Be  kind  to  the  child  that  it  may  not  die, 
For  Thou  art  King  above  all  gods! " 

Seven  long  nights  he  lay  there,  howling, 
A  lion  wounded,  moaning  and  growling. 

Seven  long  midnights,  sorrowing  greatly, 

While  Sin,  like  a  dead  man,  embraced  him  straitly. 

Till  he  was  abased  from  his  lust  and  pride 
And  the  child  was  born  and  sickened  and  died. 

He  arose  at  last.  It  was  ruddy  Day. 
And  his  sin  like  water  had  washed  away. 

He  cleansed  and  anointed,  took  fresh  apparel, 
And  worshiped  the  Lord  in  a  tuneful  carol. 

His  servants,  bearing  the  child  to  bury, 
Marveled  greatly  to  see  him  so  merry. 

He  spoke  to  them  mildly  as  mid-May  weather: 
"The  child  and  my  sin  are  perished  together. 

"He  is  dead,  my  son.  Though  his  whole  soul  yearn  to  me, 
I  must  go  to  him,  he  may  not  return  to  me. 

"Why  should  I  sorrow  for  what  was  pain? 
A  cherished  grief  is  an  iron  chain." 

He  took  up  his  harp,  the  sage  old  chief. 
His  heart  felt  clean  as  a  new  green  leaf. 

His  soul  smelt  pleasant  as  rain-wet  clover. 

"I  have  sinned  and  repented  and  that's  all  over. 


"In  his  dealings  with  heathen,  the  Lord  is  hard. 
But  the  humble  soul  is  his  spikenard." 

His  wise  thoughts  fluttered  like  doves  in  the  air. 
"I  wonder  is  Bathsheba  still  so  fair? 

"Does  she  weep  for  the  child  that  our  sin  made  perish? 
I  must  comfort  my  ewe-lamb,  comfort  and  cherish. 

"The  justice  of  God  is  honey  and  balm. 
I  will  soothe  her  heart  with  a  little  psalm." 

He  went  to  her  chamber,  no  longer  sad, 
Walking  as  light  as  a  shepherd  lad. 

He  found  her  weeping,  her  garments  rent, 
Trodden  like  straw  by  God's  punishment. 
He  solaced  her  out  of  his  great  content. 

Being  but  woman,  a  while  she  grieved, 

But  at  last  she  was  comforted,  and  conceived. 

Nine  months  later  she  bore  him  a  son. 

(The  Lord  God  is  a  mighty  God!) 

The  name  of  that  child  was  SOLOMON. 

He  was  God's  tough  staff  till  Tiis  days  were  run! 

(And  the  Lord  is  King  above  all  gods!) 


(Italy— 1 6th  Century) 

BUT  what,  by  the  fur  on  your  satin  sleeves, 
The  rain  that  drags  at  my  feather 
And  the  great  Mercurius,  god  of  thieves, 
Are  we  thieves  doing  together? 

Last  night  your  blades  bit  deep  for  their  hire, 
And  we  were  the  sickled  barley. 
To-night,  atoast  by  the  common  fire, 
You  ask  me  to  join  your  parley. 


Your  spears  are  shining  like  Iceland  spar, 
The  blood-grapes  drip  for  your  drinking; 
For  you  folk  follow  the  rising  star, 
I  follow  the  star  that's  sinking! 

My  queen  is  old  as  the  frosted  whins, 
Nay,  how  could  her  wrinkles  charm  me? 
And  the  starving  bones  are  bursting  the  skins 
In  the  ranks  of  her  ancient  army. 

You  marshal  a  steel-and-silken  troop, 

Your  cressets  are  fed  with  spices, 

And  you  batter  the  world  like  a  rolling  hoop 

To  the  goal  of  your  proud  devices. 

I  have  rocked  your  thrones— but  your  fight  is  won. 
To-night,  as  the  highest  bidder, 
You  offer  a  share  of  your  brigand-sun, 
Consider,  old  bull,  consider! 

Ahead,  red  Death  and  the  Fear  of  Death, 
Your  vultures,  stoop  to  the  slaughter. 
But  I  shall  fight  you,  body  and  breath, 
Till  my  life  runs  out  like  water! 

My  queen  is  wan  as  the  Polar  snows. 
Her  host  is  a  rout  of  specters. 
But  I  gave  her  Youth  like  a  burning  rose, 
And  her  age  shall  not  lack  protectors! 

I  would  not  turn  for  the  thunderclap 
Or  the  face  of  the  woman  who  bore  me, 
With  her  battered  badge  still  scarring  my  cap, 
And  the  drums  of  defeat  before  me. 

Roll  your  hands  in  the  honey  of  life, 
Kneel  to  your  white-necked  strumpets! 
You  came  to  your  crowns  with  a  squealing  fife 
But  I  shall  go  out  with  trumpets! 

Poison  the  steel  of  the  plunging  dart, 
Holloa  your  hounds  to  their  station! 
I  march  to  my  ruin  with  such  a  heart 
As  a  king  to  his  coronation. 


Your  poets  roar  of  your  golden  feats— 
I  have  herded  the  stars  like  cattle. 
And  you  may  die  in  the  perfumed  sheets, 
But  I  shall  die  in  battle. 


"FROM  Belton  Castle  to  Solway  side, 
Hard  by  the  bridge,  is  three  dayf  ride" 

We  had  fled  full  fast  from  her  father's  keep, 
And  the  time  was  come  that  we  must  sleep. 

The  first  day  was  an  ecstasy, 

A  golden  mist,  a  burgeoning  -tree; 

We  rode  like  gods  through  a  world  new-made, 

The  hawthorn  scented  hill  and  glade, 

A  faint,  still  sweetness  in  the  air— 

And,  oh,  her  face  and  the  wind  in  her  hair! 

And  the  steady  beat  of  our  good  steeds*  hooves, 

Bearing  us  northward,  strong  and  fast, 

To  my  high  black  tower,  stark  to  the  blast, 

Like  a  swimmer  stripped  where  the  Solway  moves. 

And  ever,  riding,  we  chanted  a  song, 
Challenging  Fortune,  loud  and  long, 
"From  Helton  Castle  to  Soltvay  side, 
Strive  as  you  may,  is  three  days'  ride!" 

She  slept  for  an  hour,  wrapped  in  my  cloak, 

And  I  watched  her  till  the  morning  broke; 

The  second  day— and  a  harsher  land, 

And  grey  bare  hills  on  either  hand; 

A  surly  land  and  a  sullen  folk, 

And  a  fog  that  came  like  bitter  smoke. 

The  road  wound  on  like  a  twisted  snake, 

And  our  horses  sobbed  as  they  topped  the  brake. 

Till  we  sprang  to  earth  at  Wyvern  Fen, 

Where  fresh  steeds  stamped,  and  were  off  again. 


Weary  and  sleepless,  bruised  and  worn, 
We  still  had  strength  for  laughter  and  scorn; 
Love  held  us  up  through  the  mire  and  mist, 
Love  fed  us,  while  we  clasped  and  kissed, 
And  still  we  sang  as  the  night  closed  in, 
Stealthy  and  slow  as  a  hidden  sin, 
"From  Belton  Castle  to  Solway  side, 
Ride  how  you  'will,  is  three  days'  ride" 

My  love  drooped  low  on  the  black  mare's  back, 
Drowned  in  her  hair  .  .  .  the  reins  went  slack  .  .  . 
Yet  she  could  not  sleep,  save  to  dream  bad  dreams 
And  wake  all  trembling,  till  at  last 
Her  golden  head  lay  on  my  breast. 

At  last  we  saw  the  first  faint  gleams 
Of  day.  Dawn  broke.  A  sickly  light 
Came  from  the  withered  sun— a  blight 
Was  on  the  land,  and  poisonous  mist 
Shrouded  the  rotting  trees,  unkissed 
By  any  wind,  and  black  crags  glared 
Like  sightless,  awful  faces,  spared 
From  death  to  live  accursed  for  aye. 

Dragging  slow  chains  the  hours  went  by. 
We  rode  on,  drunk  and  drugged  with  sleep, 
Too  deadly  weary  now  to  say 
Whether  our  horses  kept  the  way 
Or  no—like  slaves  stretched  on  a  heap 
Of  poisoned  arrows.  Every  limb 
Shot  with  sharp  pain;  pain  seemed  to  swim 
Like  a  red  cloud  before  our  eyes.  .  .  . 

The  mist  broke,  afid  a  moment  showed, 

Sharp  as  the  Devil's  oxen-goad, 

The  spear-points  where  the  hot  chase  rode. 

Idly  I  watched  them  dance  and  rise 

Till  white  wreaths  wiped  them  out  again  .  .  * 

My  love  jerked  at  the  bridle  rein; 

The  black  mare,  dying,  broke  her  heart 

In  one  swift  gallop;  for  my  part 


1  dozed;  and  ever  in  my  brain, 

Four  hoofs  of  fire  beat  out  refrain, 

A  dirge  to  light  us  down  to  death, 

A  silly  rhyme  that  saith  and  saith, 

"From  Eelton  Castle  to  Solway  side. 

Though  great  hearts  break,  is  three  days'  ride!" 

The  black  mare  staggered,  reeled  and  fell, 

Bearing  my  love  down  ...  a  great  bell 

Began  to  toll  .  .  .  and  sudden  fire 

Flared  at  me  from  the  road,  a  pyre 

It  seemed,  to  burn  our  bodies  in  ... 

And  I  fell  down,  far  down,  within 

The  pit's  mouth  .  .  .  and  my  brain  went  blind.  . 

I  woke—a  cold  sun  rose  behind 

Black  evil  hills—my  love  knelt  near 

Beside  a  stream,  her  golden  hair 

Streaming  across  the  grass— below 

The  Solway  eddied  to  and  fro, 

White  with  fierce  whirlpools  .  .  .  my  love  turned. 

Thank  God,  some  hours  of  joy  are  burned 

Into  the  mind,  and  will  remain, 

Fierce-blazing  still,  in  spite  of  pain! 

They  came  behind  us  as  we  kissed, 
Stealthily  from  the  dripping  mist,    * 
Her  brothers  and  their  evil  band. 
They  bound  me  fast  and  made  me  stand. 
They  forced  her  down  upon  her  knees. 
She  did  not  strive  or  cry  or  call, 
But  knelt  there  dumb  before  thehi  all— 
I  could  not  turn  away  my  eyes- 
There  was  no  fear  upon  her  face, 
Although  they  slew  her  in  that  place. 
The  daggers  rent  and  tore  her  breast 
Like  dogs  that  snarl  above  a  kill, 
Her  proud  face  gazed  above  them  still, 
Seeking  rest— Oh,  seeking  rest! 
The  blood  swept  like  a  crimson  dress 
Over  her  bosom's  nakedness, 
A  curtain  for  her  weary  eyes, 
A  muffling-cloth  to  stop  her  sighs  .  .  . 

And  she  was  gone— and  a  red  thing  lay 
Silent,  on  the  trampled  clay. 

Beneath  my  horse  my  feet  are  bound, 
My  hands  are  bound  behind  my  back, 
I  feel  the  sinews  start  and  crack— 
And  ever  to  the  hoof-beats'  sound, 
As  we  draw  near  the  gallows-tree, 
Where  I  shall  hang  right  speedily, 
A  crazy  tune  rings  in  my  brain, 
Four  hoofs  of  fire  tramp  the  refrain, 
Crashing  clear  o'er  the  roaring  crowd, 
Steadily  galloping,  strong  and  loud, 
"From  Belton  Castle  to  Solway  side, 
Hard  by  the  bridge,  is  three  days'  rider 


NEXT,  then,  the  peacock,  gilt 

With  all  its  feathers.  Look,  what  gorgeous  dyes 

Flow  in  the  eyes! 

And  how  deep,  lustrous  greens  are  splashed  and  spilt 

Along  the  black,  that  like  a  sea-wave's  crest 

Scatters  soft  beauty  o'er  th'  emblazoned  breast! 

A  strange  fowl!  But  most  fit 

For  feasts  like  this,  whereby  I  honor  one 

Pure  as  the  sun! 

Yet  glowing  with  the  fiery  zeal  of  it! 

Some  wine?  Your  goblet's  empty?  Let  it  foam! 

It  is  not  often  that  you  come  to  Rome. 

You  like  the  Venice  glass? 

Rippled  with  lines  that  float  like  women's  curls, 

Neck  like  a  girl's, 

Fierce-glowing  as  a  chalice  in  the  Mass? 

You  start-'twas  artist  then,  not  Pope  who  spoke! 

Ave  Maria  Stella! —ah,  it  broke! 


'Tis  said  they  break  alone 

When  poison  writhes  within.  A  foolish  tale! 

What,  you  look  pale? 

Caraffa,  fetch  a  silver  cup!  .  .  .  You  own 

A  Birth  of  Venus,  now— or  so  IVe  heard, 

Lovely  as  the  breast-plumage  of  a  bird. 

Also  a  Dancing  Faun, 
Hewn  with  the  lithe  grace  of  Praxiteles; 
Globed  pearls  to  please 
A  sultan;  golden  veils  that  drop  like  lawn- 
How  happy  I  could  be  with  but  a  tithe 
Of  your  possessions,  fortunate  one!  Don't  writhe 

But  take  these  cushions  here! 

Now  for  the  fruit!  Great  peaches,  satin-skinned, 

Rough  tamarind, 

Pomegranates  red  as  lips— oh  they  come  dear! 

But  men  like  you  we  feast  at  any  price— 

A  plum  perhaps?  They're  looking  rather  nice. 

Fll  cut  the  thing  in  half. 

There's  yours!  Now,  with  a  one-side-poisoned  knife 

One  might  snuff  life 

And  leave  one's  friend  with— "fool"  for  epitaph. 

An  old  trick?  Truth!  But  when  one  has  the  itch 

For  pretty  things  and  isn't  very  rich.  .  .  . 

There,  eat  it  all  or  I'll 

Be  angry!  You  feel  giddy?  Well,  it's  hot! 

This  bergamot 

Take  home  and  smell— it  purges  blood  of  bile; 

And  when  you  kiss  Bianca's  dimpled  knee, 

Think  of  the  poor  Pope  in  his  misery! 

Now  you  may  kiss  my  ring. 

Ho  there,  the  Cardinal's  litter!— You  must  dine 

When  the  new  wine 

Is  in,  again  with  me— hear  Bice  sing, 

Even  admire  my  frescoes— though  they're  nought ' 

Beside  the  calm  Greek  glories  you  have  bought. 


Godspeed,  Sir  Cardinal, 

And  take  a  weak  man's  blessing!  Help  him  there 

To  the  cool  air!  .  .  . 

Lucrezia  here?  You're  ready  for  the  ball? 

—He'll  die  within  ten  hours,  I  suppose— 

MhM!  Kiss  your  poor  old  father,  little  rose! 


The  remaining  poems  in  this  section  are  from 
A  Book  of  Americans 

Rosemary  and  Stephen  Vincent  Ben6t. 


1 606- 1732 

O,  where  are  you  going,  "Goodspced"  and  "Discovery"? 
With  meek  "Susan  Constant"  to  make  up  the  three? 
We're  going  to  settle  the  wilds  of  Virginia, 
For  gold  and  adventure  we're  crossing  the  sea. 

And  what  will  you  -find  there?  Starvation  and  fever. 
We'll  eat  of  the  adder  and  quarrel  and  rail. 
All  but  sixty  shall  die  of  the  first  seven  hundred, 
But  a  nation  begins  with  the  voyage, we  sail. 

O,  what  are  you  do'mg,  ?ny  handsome  Lord  Baltimore? 
Where  are  you  sending  your  "Ark"  and  your  "Dove"? 
I'm  sending  them  over  the  ocean  to  Maryland 
To  build  up  a  refuge  for  people  I  love. 

Both  Catholic  and  Protestant  there  may  find  harbor, 
Though  I  am  a  Catholic  by  creed  and  by  prayer. 
The  South  is  Virginia,  the  North  is  New  England. 
I'll  go  in  the  middle  and  plant  my  folk  there. 

O,  what  do  you  seek,  "Carolina"  and  "Albemarle", 
Now  the  Stuarts  are  up  and  the  Roundheads  are  down? 
We'll  seek  and  we'll  find,  to  the  South  of  Virginia, 
A  site  by  two  rivers  and  name  it  Charles  Town. 

And,  in  South  Carolina,  the  cockfighting  planters 
Will  dance  with  their  belles  by  a  tropical  star. 
And,  in  North  Carolina,  the  sturdy  Scotch-Irish 
Will  prove  at  King's  Mountain  the  metal  they  are. 


O,  what  are  you  dreaming,  cock-hatted  James  Oglethorpe? 
And  who  are  the  people  you  take  in  the  "Anne"? 
They're  poor  English  debtors  whom  hard  laws  imprison, 
And  poor,  distressed  Protestants,  fleeing  a  ban. 

I'll  settle  them  pleasantly  on  the  Savannah, 
With  Germans  and  Highlanders,  thrifty  and  strong. 
They  shall  eat  Georgia  peaches  in  huts  of  palmetto, 
And  their  land  shall  be  fertile,  their  days  shall  be  long. 


We're  the  barques  and  the  sailors,  the  bread  on  the  waters, 

The  seed  that  was  planted  and  grew  to  be  tall, 

And  the  South  was  first  won  by  our  toils  and  our  dangers, 

So  remember  our  journeys.  Remember  us  all. 



Grim  Cotton  Mather 
Was  always  seeing  witches, 
Daylight,  moonlight, 
They  buzzed  about  his  head, 
Pinching  him  and  plaguing  him 
With  aches  and  pains  and  stitches, 
Witches  in  his  pulpit, 
Witches  by  his  bed. 

Nowadays,  nowadays, 
We'd  say  that  he  was  crazy, 
But  everyone  believed  him 
In  old  Salem  town 
And  nineteen  people 
Were  hanged  for  Salem  witches 
Because  of  Cotton  Mather 
And  his  long,  black  gown. 

Old  Cotton  Mather 

Didn't  die  happy. 

He  could  preach  and  thunder, 


He  could  fast  and  pray, 
But  men  began  to  wonder 
If  there  had  been  witches— 
When  he  walked  in  the  streets 
Men  looked  the  other  way. 



This  person  in  the  gaudy  clothes 
Is  worthy  Captain  Kidd. 
They  say  he  never  buried  gold. 
/  think,  perhaps,  he  did. 

They  say  it's  all  a  story  that 

His  favorite  little  song 

Was  "Make  these  lubbers  walk  the  plank!" 

/  think,  perhaps,  they're  wrong. 

They  say  he  never  pirated 
Beneath  the  Skull-and-Bones. 
He  merely  traveled  for  his  health 
And  spoke  in  soothing  tones. 
In  fact,  you'll  read  in  nearly  all 
The  newer  history  books 
That  he  was  mild  as  cottage  cheese 
-But  I  don't  like  his  looks! 



New  France,  New  Spain,  New  England 

Which  will  it  be? 

Who  will  win  the  new  land? 

The  land  across  the  sea? 

They  came  here,  they  toiled  here, 
They  broke  their  hearts  afar, 


Normandy  and  Brittany, 
Paris  and  Navarre. 

They  lost  here,  at  last  here, 
It  wasn't  so  to  be. 
Let  us  still  remember  them, 
Men  from  oversea. 

Marquette  and  Joliet, 
Carrier,  La  Salle, 
Priest,  corsair,  gentleman, 
Gallants  one  and  all. 

France  was  in  their  quick  words, 
France  was  in  their  veins. 
They  came  here,  they  toiled  here. 
They  suffered  many  pains. 

Lake  and  river,  stream  and  wood, 
Seigneurs  and  dames— 
They  lived  here,  they  died  here, 
They  left  singing  names. 



Thomas  Jefferson, 
What  do  you  say 
Under  the  gravestone 
Hidden  away? 

"I  was  a  giver, 
I  was  a  molder, 
I  was  a  builder 
With  a  strong  shoulder." 

Six  feet  and  over, 
Large-boned  and  ruddy, 
The  eyes  grey-hazel 
But  bright  with  study. 


The  big  hands  clever 
With  pen  and  fiddle 
And  ready,  ever, 
For  any  riddle. 

From  buying  empires 
To  planting  'taters, 
From  Declarations 
To  trick  dumb-waiters. 

"I  liked  the  people, 

The  sweat  and  crowd  of  them, 

Trusted  them  always 

And  spoke  aloud  or  them. 

"I  liked  all  learning 
And  wished  to  share  it 
Abroad  like  pollen 
For  all  who  merit. 

"I  liked  fine  houses 
With  Greek  pilasters, 
And  built  them  surely, 
My  touch  a  master's. 

"I  liked  queer  gadgets 
And  secret  shelves, 
And  helping  nations 
To  rule  themselves. 

"Jealous  of  others? 
Not  always  candid? 
But  huge  of  vision 
And  open-handed. 

"A  wild-goose-chaser? 
Now  and  again, 
Build  Monticello, 
You  little  men! 

"Design  my  plow,  sirs, 
They  use  it  still, 


Or  found  my  college 
At  Charlottesville. 

"And  still  go  questing 
New  things  and  thinkers, 
And  keep  as  busy 
As  twenty  tinkers. 

"While  always  guarding 
The  people's  freedom— 
You  need  more  hands,  sir? 
I  didn't  need  'em. 

"They  call  you  rascal? 
They  called  me  worse. 
You'd  do  grand  things,  sir, 
But  lack  the  purse? 

"I  got  no  riches. 
I  died  a  debtor. 
I  died  free-hearted 
And  that  was  better. 

"For  life  was  freakish 
But  life  was  fervent, 
And  I  was  always 
Life's  willing  servant. 

"Life,  life's  too  weighty? 
Too  long  a  haul,  sir? 
I  lived  past  eighty. 
I  liked  it  all,  sir." 



Some  men  live  for  warlike  deeds, 
Some  for  women's  words. 
John  James  Audubon 
Lived  to  look  at  birds. 


Pretty  birds  and  funny  birds, 
All  our  native  fowl 
From  the  little  cedar  waxwing 
To  the  Great  Horned  Owl. 

Let  the  wind  blow  hot  or  cold, 
Let  it  rain  or  snow, 
Everywhere  the  birds  went 
Audubon  would  go. 

Scrambling  through  a  wilderness, 
Floating  down  a  stream, 
All  around  America 
In  a  feathered  dream. 

Thirty  years  of  traveling, 
Pockets  often  bare, 
(Lucy  Bakewell  Audubon 
Patched  them  up  with  care). 

Followed  grebe  and  meadowlark, 
Saw  them  sing  and  splash. 
(Lucy  Bakewell  Audubon 
Somehow  raised  the  cash). 

Drew  them  all  the  way  they  lived 
In  their  habitats. 
(Lucy  Bakewell  Audubon 
Sometimes  wondered  "Cats?") 

Colored  them  and  printed  them 
In  a  giant  book, 
"Birds  of  North  America"— 
All  the  world  said,  "Look!" 

Gave  him  medals  and  degrees, 
Called  him  noble  names, 
—Lucy  Bakewell  Audubon 
Kissed  her  queer  John  James. 




When  Daniel  Boone  goes  by,  at  night, 
The  phantom  deer  arise 
And  all  lost,  wild  America 
Is  burning  in  their  eyes. 


They  went  with  axe  and  rifle,  when  the  trail  was  still  to  blaze, 
They  went  with  wife  and  children,  in  the  prairie-schooner  days, 
With  banjo  and  with  frying  pan—Susanna,  don't  you  cry! 
For  I'm  off  to  California  to  get  rich  out  there  or  die! 

We've  broken  land  and  cleared  it,  but  we're  tired  of  where  we 


They  say  that  wild  Nebraska  is  a  better  place  by  far. 
There's  gold  in  far  Wyoming,  there's  black  earth  in  loway, 
So  pack  up  the  kids  and  blankets,  for  we're  moving  out  today! 

The  cowards  never  started  and  the  weak  died  on  the  road, 
And  all  across  the  continent  the  endless  campfires  glowed. 
We'd  taken  land  and  settled— but  a  traveler  passed  by— 
And  we're  going  West  tomorrow— Lordy ,  never  ask  us  why! 

We're  going  West  tomorrow,  where  the  promises  can't  fail. 

O'er  the  hills  in  legions,  boys,  and  crowd  the  dusty  trail! 

We  shall  starve  and  freeze  and  suffer.  We  shall  die,  and  tame 

the  lands. 
But  we're  going  West  tomorrow,  with  our  fortune  in  our  hands. 



Creatures  of  Earth 


(A  Pharaoh  Speaks) 

I  SAID,  "Why  should  a  pyramid 
Stand  always  dully  on  its  base? 
I'll  change  it!  Let  the  top  be  hid, 
The  bottom  take  the  apex-place!" 
And  as  I  bade  tfiey  did. 

The  people  flocked  in,  scores  on  scores, 

To  see  it  balance  on  its  tip. 

They  praised  me  with  the  praise  that  bores, 

My  godlike  mind  on  every  lip. 

—Until  it  fell,  of  course. 

And  then  they  took  my  body  out 

From  my  crushed  palace,  mad  with  rage, 

—Well,  half  the  town  'was  wrecked,  no  doubt- 

Their  crazy  anger  to  assuage 

By  dragging  it  about. 

The  end?  Foul  birds  defile  my  skull. 
The  new  king's  praises  fill  the  land. 
He  clings  to  precept,  simple,  dull; 
His  pyramids  on  bases  stand. 
But— Lord,  how  usual! 



HEAVEN  is  hell,  if  it  be  as  they  say, 

An  endless  day. 

A  pen  of  terrible  radiance,  on  whose  walls 

No  shadow  falls, 

No  sunset  ever  comes  because  no  sun  has  ever  risen, 

Where,  like  bewildered  flies, 

Poor  immortalities 

Interminably  crawl,  caught  in  a  crystal  prison. 

Yet,  if  there  is  but  night  to  recompense 


How  can  we  bear  to  live  so  long  and  know 

The  end  is  so? 

Creatures  that  hate  the  dark,  to  utmost  dark  descending? 

The  worm's  dull  enmity, 

To  feel  it— but  not  see! 

To  be  afraid  at  night  and  know  that  night  unending! 

There  is  a  time  when,  though  the  sun  be  weak. 

It  is  not  bleak 

With  perfect  and  intolerable  light, 

Nor  has  the  night 

Yet  put  those  eyes  to  sleep  that  do  not  wish  for  slumber; 

When,  on  the  city  we  know, 

The  pale,  transmuting  snow 

Falls  softly,  in  sighing  flakes,  immaculate,  without  number. 

Whisperingly  it  drifts,  and  whisperingly 

Fills  earth  and  sky 

With  fragile  petals,  tranquil  as  a  swan's 

Blanch  pinions. 

And  where  it  falls-is  silence,  subtle  and  mild. 

That  silence  is  not  cruel 

But  calm  as  a  frozen  jewel, 

And  clasped  to  its  cold  frail  breast  Earth  sucks  in  rest  like  a  child. 

If  there  can  be  a  heaven,  let  it  wear 

Even  such  an  air. 

Not  shamed  with  sun  nor  black  without  a  ray, 


But  gently  day. 

A  tired  street,  whereon  the  snow  falls,  whitely, 

An  infant,  cradled  in  fleece, 

An  ancient,  drowsy  with  peace, 

Unutterable  peace,  too  pure  to  shine  too  brightly. 


OUT  of  the  stroke,  the  change, 

The  body  locked  in  its  death 

Like  a  stream  locked  in  the  ice, 

The  whiteness  under  the  cheek, 

The  lips  forever  set 

In  the  look  that  is  always  strange 

Because  we  remember  yet 

How  they  spoke,  how  the  mere  breath 

Was  enough  to  make  them  speak. 

I  saw  the  soul  arise, 
Naked,  shaped  like  a  blade, 
Free,  inhuman  and  bright, 
And  where  the  body  was  laid 
I  saw  it  hover. 
It  had  no  need  of  eyes. 
It  had  forgotten  the  grief, 
The  long  pain  and  the  brief, 
The  daybreak,  the  burning  night, 
The  touch  of  water  and  light. 
These  were  over. 

It  was  free.  It  would  not  return. 
I  saw  its  brightness  spurn 
Like  the  heel  of  a  fugitive 
The  body  it  hung  above, 
The  body  which  gave  it  birth- 
It  is  this  I  cannot  forgive. 
It  is  thus  they  answer  our  love 
When  they  are  gone  from  the  earth. 



ADAM  was  my  grandfather, 
A  tall,  spoiled  child, 
A  red,  clay  tower 
In  Eden,  green  and  mild. 
He  ripped  the  Sinful  Pippin 
From  its  sanctimonious  limb. 
Adam  was  my  grandfather— 
And  I  take  after  him. 

Noah  was  my  uncle 

And  he  got  dead  drunk. 

There  were  planets  in  his  liquor-can 

And  lizards  in  his  bunk. 

He  fell  into  the  Bottomless 

Past  Hell's  most  shrinking  star. 

Old  Aunt  Fate  has  often  said 

How  much  alike  we  are. 

Lilith,  she's  my  sweetheart 
Till  my  heartstrings  break, 
Most  of  her  is  honey-pale 
And  all  of  her  is  snake. 
Sweet  as  secret  thievery, 
I  kiss  her  all  I  can, 
While  Somebody  Above  remarks 
"That's  not  a  nice  young  man!" 

Bacchus  was  my  brother, 

Nimrod  is  my  friend. 

All  of  them  have  talked  to  me 

On  how  such  courses  end. 

Buf  when  His  Worship  takes  me  up 

How  can  I  fare  but  well? 

For  who  in  gaudy  Hell  will  care? 

—And  I  shall  be  in  Hell. 



MY  SON  has  built  a  fortified  house 

To  keep  his  pride  from  the  thunder, 

And  his  steadfast  heart  from  the  gnawing  mouse 

That  nibbles  the  roots  of  wonder. 

My  daughter's  wit  has  hammered  and  filed 
Her  slight  and  glittering  armor. 
She  hides  in  its  rings  like  a  dragon-child, 
And  nothing  on  earth  can  harm  her. 

My  wife  has  molded  a  coffin  of  lead 
From  the  counterfeit  tears  of  mourners. 
She  rests  in  it,  calm  as  a  saint  long  dead, 
And  the  Four  Winds  kneel  at  its  corners. 

I  have  scooped  my  den  with  a  crafty  thumb 
In  the  guts  of  an  arid  acre. 
And  it  may  not  last  till  Kingdom  Come 
—But  it  will  not  cripple  its  maker. 

It  is  six  feet  long  by  three  feet  deep 
And  some  may  call  it  narrow. 
But,  when  I  get  into  it,  I  can  keep 
The  nakedness  of  an  arrow. 


SOUP  should  be  heralded  with  a  mellow  horn, 
Blowing  clear  notes  of  gold  against  the  stars; 
Strange  entrees  with  a  jangle  of  glass  bars 
Fantastically  alive  with  subtle  scorn; 
Fish,  by  a  plopping,  gurgling  rush  of  waters, 
Clear,  vibrant  waters,  beautifully  austere; 
Roast,  with  a  thunder  of  drums  to  stun  the  ear, 
A  screaming  fife,  a  voice  from  ancient  slaughters! 

Over  the  salad  let  the  woodwinds  moan; 
Then  the  green  silence  of  many  watercresses; 
Dessert,  a  balalaika,  strummed  alone; 


Coffee,  a  slow,  low  singing  no  passion  stresses; 
Such  are  my  thoughts  as— clang!  crash!  bang!— I  brood 
And  gorge  the  sticky  mess  these  fools  call  food! 


(For  J.  F.  C,  Jr.) 

BOUND  to  the  polished  table,  arm  and  leg, 
I  lay  and  watched,  with  loud,  disgusting  fear, 
The  army  of  the  instruments  draw  near, 
Hook,  saw,  sleek  scissor  and  distorted  peg; 
My  eyes  were  like  a  spaniel's  when  they  beg, 
The  nurses'  purpose  was  so  very  clear 
.  .  .  And  though  I  tried  to  bite  one  in  the  ear 
She  stayed  as  white  and  silent  as  an  egg. 

Time,  the  superb  physician,  drew  his  breath, 

"I'll  just  remove  Youth,  Health  and  Love,"  he  said, 

"The  rest  is  for  Consulting-Surgeon  Death." 

God,  how  I  hated  that  peremptory  head! 

As  through  the  ether  came  his  sickening  drawl 

"Now  this  won't  hurt.  .  .  .  Oh,  it  won't  hurt  at  all." 


(For  C.  M.) 

FIERCE  little  bombs  of  gleam  snap  from  his  spangles, 
Sleek  flames  glow  softly  on  his  silken  tights, 
The  waiting- crowd  blurs  to  crude  darks  and  whites 
Beneath  the  lamps  that  stare  like  savage  bangles; 
Safe  in  a  smooth  and  sweeping  arc  he  dangles 
And  sees  the  tanbark  tower  like  old  heights 
Before  careening  eyes.  At  last  he  sights 
The  waiting  hands  and  sinuously  untangles. 

Over  the  sheer  abyss  so  deadly-near, 
He  falls,  like  wine  to  its  appointed  cup, 


Turns  like  a  wheel  of  fireworks,  and  is  mine. 
Battering  hands  acclaim  our  triumph  clear. 
—And  steadfast  muscles  draw  my  sonnet  up 
To  the  firm  iron  of  the  fourteenth  line. 


"HE'LL  let  us  off  with  fifty  years!"  one  said. 
And  one,  "I  always  knew  that  Bible  lied! " 
One  who  was  philanthropic  stood  aside, 
Patting  his  sniveling  virtues  on  the  head. 
"Yes,  there  may  be  some— pain,"  another  wheezed. 
"One  rending  touch  to  fit  the  soul  for  bliss." 
"A  bare  formality!"  one  seemed  to  hiss. 
And  everyone  was  pink  and  fed  and  pleased. 

Then  thunder  came,  and  with  an  earthquake  sound 
Shook  those  fat  corpses  from  their  flabby  languor. 
The  sky  was  furious  with  immortal  anger, 
We  miserable  sinners  hugged  the  ground: 
Seeing  through  all  the  torment,  saying,  "Yes," 
God's  quiet  face,  serenely  merciless. 


HERE,  where  men's  eyes  were  empty  and  as  bright 
As  the  blank  windows  set  in  glaring  brick, 
When  the  wind  strengthens  from  the  sea— and  night 
Drops  like  a  fog  and  makes  the  breath  come  thick; 

By  the  deserted  paths,  the  vacant  halls, 
One  may  see  figures,  twisted  shades  and  lean, 
Like  the  mad  shapes  that  crawl  an  Indian  screen, 
Or  paunchy  smears  you  find  on  prison  walls. 

Turn  the  knob  gently!  There's  the  Thumbless  Man, 
Still  weaving  glass  and  silk  into  a  dream, 
Although  the  wall  shows  through  him— and  the  Khan 
Journeys  Cathay  beside  a  paper  stream. 


A  Rabbit  Woman  chitters  by  the  door— 
—Chilly  the  grave-smell  comes  from  the  turned  sod- 
Come— lift  the  curtain— and  be  cold  before 
The  silence  of  the  eight  men  who  were  God! 



"Spirit,  they  charge  you  that  the  time  is  ill. 

The  great  wall  sinks  in  the  slime!" 

"/  am  a  spirit,  still. 

I  do  not  'walk  'with  the  time" 

"The  sky  shivers,  the  king  is  a  beast  run  wild, 
The  lords  are  sullen  and  base! " 
"When  the  sun  rose  up  in  the  East  like  a  great  child, 
I  saw  the  gold  and  the  face" 

"Come,  draw  your  steel  for  the  right,  for  the  time  wears  on! 
It  is  only  a  little  way  to  Jerusalem!'1 
"/  have  seen  the  floating  swan 
And  the  lion,  bloody  with  dawn, 
1  will  make  pictures  of  them." 

"What,  lift  no  sword  in  the  battle?11 

"7  am  ^wordless." 
"No  cause,  no  cry?" 


"/  am  shadow,  shadow  that  passes  across  the  meadow 
And  goes  its  way  " 

"By  God,  against  God,  in  our  name,  we  will  slay  you,  then!" 

"And,  when  we  have  slain  them  all,  we  will  build  for  men 
The  city  called  Marvelous,  the  glittering  town, 
And  none  shall  be  exalted  or  cast  down 
But  all  at  ease,  all  hatreds  reconciled." 

"/  am  air  and  I  live.  I  live  again  and  again. 
I  am  wind  and  fire.  But  I  am  not  reconciled" 



Like  a  flower,  like  a  tulip, 

So  fresh,  so  hardy, 

So  slim,  so  hasting, 

The  nose  tip-tilted, 

The  mouth  her  mother's, 

The  eyes  brighter 

Than  rabbit's  or  squirrel's 

Suddenly  peering 

From  bough  or  burrow; 

All  this  in  motion, 

Motion  and  swaying, 

As  if  all  life 

Were  a  wave  of  ocean, 

As  if  all  life 

Were  the  clean  stalk  springing 

Brightly,  greenly, 

From  earth  unworn, 

To  sway  with  sunlight, 

To  drink  clear  freshets, 

Swiftly,  oh,  swiftly 

To  swell  its  bubble, 

The  staunch  red  flower 

Hardy  and  mortal, 

The  bright  flag 

On  the  new  hill, 

Mortal,  gallant, 

As  a  cockerel's  cry. 

To  this  child, 
To  all  swift  children, 
My  great  thanks 
For  their  clear  honor, 
The  hound  running, 
The  flying  fire. 



Flesh,  if  you  were  stone  or  tree, 
I'd  be  happier  with  ye. 

When  I  was  young,  I  slept  like  stone, 
When  I  was  young,  I  grew  like  tree. 
Now  I  lie,  abed,  alone, 
And  I  wonder  if  'tis  me. 

Wake  at  night  and  ease  me 
But  it  does  not  please  me, 
Stick  I  am,  sick  I  am, 
Apple  pared  to  quick  I  am, 
Woman-nursed  and  queer. 
Once  I  had  a  sweet  tooth, 
A  sharp  tooth,  a  neat  tooth, 
Cocked  my  hat  and  winked  my  eye 
As  the  pretty  girls  went  by, 
Pretty  girls  and  punkin-pie— 
Dear!  oh,  dear! 

Old  man's  a  hoppergrass 
Kicking  in  the  wheat. 

Can't  eat  his  fill, 
Can't  drink  his  will, 
Can't  climb  his  hill, 
Can't  have  his  Jill. 

And,  when  he  talks  sense, 
Relations  say, 
"Better  let  Father 
Haye  his  way." 

A  stone's  a  stone 
And  a  tree's  a  tree, 
But  what  was  the  sense 
Of  aging  me? 

It's  no  improvement 
That  /  can  see. 


And  the  night's  long 
And  the  night-sleep  brief 
And  I  hear  the  rustle 
Of  the  fallen  leaf, 
"Old  man  Hoppergrass, 
Come  and  see! 

Well,  I  won't  for  a  little, 
Not  while  I'm  me. 

But  the  sun's  not  as  hot 
As  it  used  to  be. 


In  the  daytime,  maybe,  your  heart's  not  breaking, 

For  there's  the  sun  and  the  sky  and  working 

And  the  neighbors  to  give  you  a  word  or  hear  you, 

But,  ah,  the  long  nights  when  the  wind  comes  shaking 

The  cold,  black  curtain,  pulling  and  jerking, 

And  no  one  there  in  the  bed  to  be  near  you. 

And  worse  than  the  clods  on  the  coffin  falling 
Are  the  clothes  in  the  closet  that  no  one  wears  now 
And  the  things  like  hairpins  you're  always  finding. 
And  you  wouldn't  mind  the  ghost  of  her  calling 
As  much  as  knowing  that  no  one  cares  now 
If  the  carpet  fades  when  the  sun  gets  blinding. 

I  look  in  the  houses,  when  twilight  narrows, 
And  in  each  a  man  comes  back  to  a  woman. 
The  thought  of  that  coming  has  spurs  to  ride  me. 
—Death,  you  have  taken  the  great  like  sparrows, 
But  she  was  so  slight,  so  small,  so  human. 
You  might  have  left  her  to  lie  beside  me. 



Lord,  may  I  be 
A  sparrow  in  a  tree. 

No  ominous  and  splendid  bird  of  prey 

But  something  that  is  fearful  every  day 

Yet  keeps  its  small  flesh  full  of  heat  and  lightness. 

Pigeons  are  better  dressed  and  robins  stouter, 

The  white  owl  has  all  winter  in  his  whiteness 

And  the  blue  heron  is  a  kingly  dream 

At  evening,  by  the  pale  stream, 

But,  even  in  the  lion  s  cage,  in  Zoos, 

You'll  find  a  sparrow,  picking  up  the  crumbs 

And  taking  life  precisely  as  it  comes 

With  the  black,  wary  eye  that  marks  the  doubter; 

Squabbling  in  crowds,  dust-bathing  in  the  sun, 

Small,  joyous,  impudent,  a  gutter-child 

In  Lesbia's  bosom  or  December's  chill, 

Full  of  impertinence  and  hard  to  kill 

As  Queen  Anne's  lace  and  poppies  in  the  wheat— 

1  won't  pretend  the  fellow  has  a  Muse 

But  that  he  has  advice,  and  good  advice, 

All  lovers  know  who've  walked  the  city's  street 

And  wished  the  stones  were  bread. 

Peacocks  are  handsomer  and  owls  more  wise. 

(At  least,  by  all  repute.) 

And  parrots  live  on  flattery  and  fruit, 

Live  to  great  age.  The  sparrow's  none  of  these. 

The  sparrow  is  a  humorist,  and  dies. 

There  are  so  many  things  that  he  is  not. 

He  will  not  tear  the  stag  nor  sweep  the  seas 

Nor  fall,  majestical,  to  a  king's  arrow. 

Yet  how  he  lives,  and  how  he  loves  in  living 

Up  to  the  dusty  tip  of  every  feather! 

How  he  endures  oppression  and  the  weather 

And  asks  for  neither  justice  nor  forgiving! 

Lord,  in  your  mercy,  let  me  be  a  sparrow! 

His  rapid  heart's  so  hot. 

And  some  can  sing— song-sparrows,  so  they  say— 

And,  one  thing,  Lord— the  times  are  iron,  now. 

Perhaps  you  have  forgot. 

They  shoot  the  wise  and  brave  on  every  bough. 

But  sparrows  are  the  last  things  that  get  shot. 



For  these  my  thanks,  not  that  I  eat  or  sleep, 

Sweat  or  survive,  but  that  at  seventeen 

I  could  so  blind  myself  in  writing  verse 

That  the  wall  shuddered  and  the  cry  came  forth 

And  the  numb  hand  that  wrote  was  not  my  hand 

But  a  wise  animal's. 

Then  the  exhaustion  and  the  utter  sleep. 

O  flagrant  and  unnecessary  body, 

So  hard  beset,  so  clumsy  in  your  skill! 

For  these  my  thanks,  not  that  I  breathe  and  achef 

Talk  with  my  kind,  swim  in  the  naked  sea, 

But  that  the  tired  monster  keeps  the  road 

And  even  now,  even  at  thirty-eight, 

The  metal  heats,  the  flesh  grows  numb  again 

And  I  can  still  go  muttering  down  the  street 

Not  seeing  the  interminable  world 

Nor  the  ape-faces,  only  the  live  coal. 




Well,  here  we  go! 

I  told  you  that  the  weather  looked  like  snow. 
Why  couldn't  we  have  stayed  there  at  the  inn? 
There  was  good  straw  and  barley  in  the  bin 
And  a  grey  jenny  with  a  melting  eye, 
Neat-hoofed  and  sly— I  rather  like  them  sly- 
Master  a  trader  and  a  man  of  sense. 
He  likes  his  life  and  dinner.  So  do  I. 
Sleeps  warm  and  doesn't  try  to  cross  a  pass 
A  mountain-goat  would  balk  at  in  his  prime, 
Where  the  hail  falls  as  big  as  Peter's  Pence 
And  every  stone  you  slip  on  rolls  a  mile! 
But  that's  not  you,  of  course— that's  not  our  style— 
We're  far  too  dandipratted  and  sublime! 
Which  of  us  is  the  ass? 

Good  ground,  beyond  the  snow? 

I've  heard  that  little  song  before,  you  know. 

Past  cliff  and  ragged  mount 

And  the  wind's  skinning-knife, 

Far  and  forever  far, 

The  water  of  the  fount, 

The  water  that  is  life 

And  the  bright  star? 

Give  me  my  water  from  a  decent  trough, 

Not  dabs  or  ice  licked  out  of  freezing  stone 

And,  as  for  stars,  why,  let  the  stars  alone, 

You'll  have  us  both  in  glory  soon  enough! 

Alas,  alack! 

I'm  carrying  an  idiot  on  my  back. 

I'm  carrying  Mr.  Who  to  God  Knows  Where. 

Oh,  do  not  fix  me  with  that  burning  stare 

Of  beauteous  disdain! 

I'm  not  a  colt.  I  know  my  ass's  rights. 

A  stall  and  fodder  and  sound  sleep  of  nights. 


One  can't  expect  to  live  on  sugarcane 
But  what's  the  sense,  when  one  grows  old  and  stiff, 
Of  scrambling  up  this  devil-haunted  cliff 
To  play  hot  cockles  with  the  Northern  Lights? 
I'll  balk,  that's  what  I'll  do! 
And  all  the  worse  for  you! 
Oh,  lash  me  if  you  like— I  know  your  way- 
Rake  my  poor  sides  and  leave  the  bloody  weal 
Beneath  your  spurring  steel. 
My  lungs  are  fire  and  my  limbs  are  .lead. 

Go  on  ahead?  I  can't  go  on  ahead. 

Desert  you  in  your  need?  Nay,  master,  nay. 

Nay,  master,  nay;  I  grumble  as  I  must 

And  yet,  as  you  perceive,  I  do  go  on, 

Grudging,  impenitent  and  full  of  fear 

And  knowing  my  own  death. 

You  have  no  fear  because  you  have  no  breath. 

Your  silver  essence  knows  nor  cold  nor  heat. 

Your  world's  beyond.  My  only  world  is  here. 

(Oh,  the  sweet  rollings  in  the  summer  dust, 

The  smell  of  hay  and  thistles  and  the  street, 

The  quick  life,  done  so  soon! ) 

You'll  have  your  guerdon  wherj  the  journey's  done. 

You'll  play  the  hero  where  the  wine  is  poured, 

You  and  the  moon— but  I 

Who  served  you  well  and  shall  become  a  bone, 

Why  do  I  live  when  it  must  be  to  die? 

Why  should  I  serve— and  still  have  no  reward? 


Your  plaint  is  sound,  yet  I  must  rule  you  still 

With  bridle,  bit  and  will. 

For,  without  me,  you  are  the  child  unborn 

And  the  infertile  corn. 

I  am  not  cruelty  but  I  am  he, 

Drowning  in  sea,  who  yet  disdains  the  sea, 

And  you  that  sea,  that  shore 


And  the  brave,  laboring  oar, 

Little  upon  the  main, 

That  drives  on  reefs  I  know  not  of  but  does  not  drive  in  vain. 

For  I'm  your  master  but  your  scholar,  too, 

And  learn  great  things  of  you. 

And,  though  I  shall  forsake  you,  nothing  loth, 

To  grumble  with  the  clods, 

To  sleep  into  the  stone, 

Til  answer  for  us  both 

When  I  stand  up  alone. 

For  it  is  part  as  your  ambassador 

i  go  before 

To  tell  the  gods  who  sit  above  the  show, 

How,  in  this  world  they  never  stoop  to  know, 

Under  what  skies,  against  what  mortal  odds, 

The  dust  grows  noble  with  desire  and  pain, 

And  that  not  once  but  every  day  anew. 




Nightmares  and  Visitants 


HIS  is  for  you  who  are  to  come,  with  Time, 
And  gaze  upon  our  ruins  with  strange  eyes. 

So,  always,  there  were  the  streets  and  the  high,  clear  light 
And  it  was  a  crowded  island  and  a  great  city; 
They  built  high  up  in  the  air. 

/  have  gone  to  the  museum  and  seen  the  pictures. 

And  yet  shall  not  know  this  body.  It  was  other; 
Though  the  first  sight  from  the  water  was  even  so, 
The  huge  blocks  piled,  the  giants  standing  together, 
Noble  with  plane  and  mass  and  the  squareness  of  stone, 
The  buildings  that  had  skeletons  like  a  man 
And  nerves  of  wire  in  their  bodies,  the  skyscrapers, 
Standing  their  island,  looking  toward  the  sea. 
But  the  maps  and  the  models  will  not  be  the  same. 
They  cannot  restore  that  beauty,  rapid  and  harsh, 
That  loneliness,  that  passion  or  that  name. 

Yet  the  films  were  taken? 

Most  carefully  and  well, 
But  the  skin  is  not  the  life  but  over  the  life. 
The  live  thing  was  a  different  beast,  in  its  time, 
And  sometimes,  in  the  fall,  very  fair,  like  a  knife  sharpened 
On  stone  and  sun  and  blue  shadow.  That  was  the  time 
When  girls  in  red  hats  rode  down  the  Avenue 
On  the  tops  of  busses,  their  faces  bright  with  the  wind, 


And  the  year  began  again  with  the  first  cool  days. 
,\li  places  in  that  country  are  fair  in  the  fall. 

You  speak  as  if  the  year  began  with  the  fall. 

It  was  so.  It  began  then,  not  with  the  calendar. 

It  was  an  odd  city.  The  fall  brought  us  new  life, 

Though  there  was  no  festival  set  and  we  did  not  talk  of  it. 

That  seems  to  me  strange. 

It  was  not  strange,  in  that  city. 
We  had  four  seasons:  the  fall  of  the  quick,  brief  steps 
Ringing  on  stone  and  the  thick  crowds  walking  fast, 
The  clear  sky,  the  rag  of  sunset  beyond  great  buildings, 
The  bronze  flower,  the  resurrection  of  the  year. 
The  squirrels  ran  in  the  dry  Park,  burying  nuts. 
The  boys  came  from  far  places  with  cardboard  suitcases. 
It  is  hard  to  describe,  but  the  lights  looked  gay  at  night  then 
And  everything  old  and  used  had  been  put  away. 
There  were  cheap  new  clothes  for  the  clerks  and  the  clerks' 


There  was  frost  in  the  blood  and  anything  could  begin. 
The  shops  were  slices  of  honeycomb  full  of  honey, 
Full  of  the  new,  glassed  honey  of  the  year. 
It  seemed  a  pity  to  die  then,  a  great  pity. 
The  great  beast  glittered  like  sea-water  in  the  sun, 
His  heart  beating,  his  lungs  full  of  air  and  pride, 
And  the  strong  shadow  cutting  the  golden  towers. 

Then  the  cold  fell,  and  the  winter,  with  grimy  snow, 

With  the  overcoatless  men  with  the  purple  hands 

Walking  between  two  signboards  in  the  street 

And  the  sign  on  their  backs  said  "Winter"  and  the  soiled  papers 

Blew  fretfully  up  and  down  and  froze  in  the  ice 

As  the  lukewarm  air  blew  up  from  the  grated  holes. 

This  lasted  a  long  time,  till  the  skin  was  dry 

And  the  cheeks  hot  with  the  fever  and  the  cough  sharp. 

On  the  cold  days,  the  cops  had  faces  like  blue  meat, 

And  then  there  was  snow  and  pure  snow  and  tons  of  snow 

And  the  whole  noise  stopping,  marvellously  and  slowly, 

Till  you  could  hear  the  shovels  scraping  the  stone, 

Scritch-scratch,  scritch-scratch,  like  the  digging  of  iron  mice. 


Nothing  else  but  that  sound,  and  the  air  most  pure, 

Most  pure,  most  fragrant  and  most  innocent, 

,And,  next  day,  the  boys  made  dirty  balls  of  the  snow. 

This  season  lasted  so  long  we  were  weary  of  it. 

We  were  very  weary  indeed  when  the  spring  came  to  us. 

And  it  came. 

I  do  not  know  how  even  yet,  but  there  was  a  turning, 

A  change,  a  melting,  a  difference,  a  new  smell 

Though  not  that  of  any  flower. 

It  came  from  both 

Rivers,  I  think,  or  across  them.  It  sneaked  in 
On  a  market  truck,  a  girl  in  a  yellow  hat 
With  a  pinched,  live  face  and  a  bunch  of  ten-cent  narcissus 
And  the  sky  was  soft  and  it  was  easy  to  dream. 
You  could  count  the  spring  on  your  fingers,  but  it  came. 
Ah,  brief  it  was  in  that  city,  but  good  for  love! 
The  boys  got  their  stick-bats  out  then,  the  youths  and  girls 
Talked  hoarsely  under  street  lamps,  late  in  the  night. 

And  then  it  was  tiger-summer  and  the  first  heat, 
The  first  thunder,  the  first  black  pile  of  aching  cloud, 
The  big  warm  drops  of  rain  that  spatter  the  dust 
And  the  ripping  cloth  of  lightning. 

Those  were  the  hot 

Nights  when  the  poor  lay  out  on-  the  fire-escapes 
And  the  child  cried  thinly  and  endlessly.  Many  streets 
Woke  very  late  in  the  night,  then. 
And  barbarously  the  negro  night  bestrode 
The  city  with  great  gold  rings  in  his  ears 
And  his  strong  body  glistening  with  heat. 
He  had,  I  think,  a  phial  in  one  hand 
And  from  it  took  a  syringe,  dry  as  dust, 
To  dope  tired  bodies  with  uneasy  sleep. 
The  backs  of  my  hands  are  sweating  with  that  sleep 
And  I  have  lain  awake  in  the  hot  bed 
And  heard  the  fierce,  brief  storm  bring  the  relief, 
The  little  coolness,  the  water  on  the  tongue, 
The  new  wind  from  the  river,  dear  as  rain. 

/  have  not  studied  the  weather-reports  intensively. 
Should  I  do  so? 

You  will  not  get  it  from  weather-reports. 


There  was  the  drunkard's  city  and  the  milkman's, 
The  city  of  the  starving  and  the  fed, 
The  city  of  the  night-nurse  and  the  scrubbed  wall. 
All  these  locked  into  each  other  like  sliding  rings 
And  a  man,  in  his  time,  might  inhabit  one  of  them 
Or  many,  as  his  fate  took  him,  but  always,  always, 
There  were  the  blocks  of  stone  and  the  windows  gazing 
And  the  breath  that  did  not  stop.  It  was  never  quite  still. 
You  could  always  hear  some  sound,  though  you  forgot  it, 
And  the  sound  entered  the  flesh  and  was  part  of  it. 

It  was  high  but  no  one  planned  it  to  be  so  high. 
They  did  not  think,  when  they  built  so.  They  did  not  say, 
"This  will  make  life  better,  this  is  due  to  the  god, 
This  will  be  good  to  live  in."  They  said  "Build!" 
And  dug  steel  into  die  rocks. 

They  were  a  race 

Most  nervous,  energetic,  swift  and  wasteful, 
And  maddened  by  the  dry  and  beautiful  light 
Although  not  knowing  their  madness. 

So  they  built 

Not  as  men  before  but  as  demons  under  a  whip 
And  the  light  was  a  whip  and  a  sword  and  a  spurning  heel 
And  the  light  wore  out  their  hearts  and  they  died  praising  it. 

And  for  money  and  the  lack  of  it  many  died, 

Leaping  from  windows  or  crushed  by  the  big  truck. 

They  shot  themselves  in  washrooms  because  of  money. 

They  were  starved  and  died  on  the  benches  of  subway-stations, 

The  old  men,  with  the  caved  cheeks,  yellow  as  lard, 

The  men  with  the  terrible  shoes  and  the  open  hands, 

The  eyeing  and  timid  crowd  about  them  gathered. 

Yet  it  is  not  just  to  say  money  was  all  their  god 

Nor  just  to  sgy  that  machine  was  all  their  god. 

It  is  not  just  to  say  any  one  thing  about  them. 

They  built  the  thing  very  high,  far  over  their  heads. 

Because  of  it,  they  gave  up  air,  earth  and  stars. 

Will  you  tell  me  about  the  people,  if  you  please? 

They  are  all  gone,  the  workers  on  the  high  steel, 
The  best  of  their  kind,  cat-footed,  walking  on  space, 


The  arcs  of  the  red-hot  rivet  in  the  air; 

They  are  gone  with  the  empty,  arrogant  women  of  price, 

The  evening  women,  curried  till  their  flesh  shone; 

With  the  big,  pale  baker,  the  flour  in  his  creases, 

Coming  up  to  breathe  from  his  hell  on  a  summer  night; 

They  are  gone  as  if  they  were  not. 

The  blue-chinned  men  of  the  hotel-lobbies  are  gone, 

Though  they  sat  like  gods  in  their  chairs; 

Night-watchmen  and  cleaning-women  and  millionaires; 

The  maimed  boy,  clean  and  legless  and  always  sitting 

On  his  small,  wheeled  platform,  by  the  feet  of  the  crowd; 

The  sharp,  sad  newsmen,  the  hackers  spinning  their  wheels; 

The  ardent,  the  shy,  the  brave;* 

The  women  who  looked  from  mean  windows,  every  day, 

A  pillow  under  their  elbows,  heavily  staring; 

They  are  gone,  gone  with  the  long  cars  and  the  short  ones, 

They  have  dropped  as  smoothly  as  coins  through  the  slot  oi 


Mrs.  Rausmeyer  is  gone  and  Mrs.  Costello 
And  the  girl  at  Goldstein  &  Brady's  who  had  the  hair. 
Their  lipsticks  have  made  no  mark  on  the  evening  sky. 
It  is  long  ago  this  all  was.  It  is  all  forgotten. 

And  yet,  you  lie  uneasy  in  the  grave. 

I  cannot  well  lie  easy  in  the  grave. 

All  cities  are  the  loneliness  of  man 

And  this  was  very  lonely,  in  its  time 

(Sea-haunted,  river-emblemed,  O  the  grey 

Water  at  ends  of  streets  and  the  boats  hooting! 

The  unbelievable,  new,  bright,  girl  moon!), 

Most  cruel  also,  but  I  walked  it  young, 

Loved  in  it  and  knew  night  and  day  in  it. 

There  was  the  height  and  the  light.  It  was  like  no  other. 

When  the  gods  come,  tell  them  we  built  this  out  of  steel, 

Though  men  use  steel  no  more. 

And  tell  the  man  who  tries  to  dig  this  dust, 

He  will  forget  his  joy  before  his  loneliness. 


IT  is  time  to  speak  of  these 

Who  took  the  long,  strange  journey  overseas, 

Who  fell  through  the  air  in  flames. 

Their  names  are  many.  I  will  not  name  their  names 

Though  some  were  people  I  knew; 

After  some  years  the  ghost  itself  dies,  too, 

And  that  is  my  son's  picture  on  the  wall 

But  his  girl  has  been  long  married  and  that  is  all. 

They  died  in  mud,  they  died  in  camps  of  the  flu. 

They  are  dead.  Let  us  leave  it  so. 

The  ones  I  speak  of  were  not  forced,  I  know. 

They  were  men  of  my  age  and  country,  they  were  young  men 

At  Belleau,  at  the  seaports,  by  the  Aisne. 

They  went  where  their  passion  took  them  and  are  not. 

They  do  not  answer  mockery  or  praise. 

You  may  restore  the  days 

They  lived  beneath  and  you  may  well  restore 

The  painted  image  of  that  fabled  war, 

But  not  those  faces,  not  the  living  ones 

Drowned  in  the  water,  blown  before  the  guns 

In  France  or  Belgium  or  the  bitter  sea 

(And  the  foreign  grave  is  far,  and  men  use  the  name, 

But  they  did  not  go  for  votes  or  the  pay  they  got 

Or  the  brave  memorial  speech  by  the  D.A.R.) 

It  is  far,  the  foreign  grave.  It  is  very  far 

And  the  time  is  not  the  same. 

But  certain  things  are  true 

Despite  the  time,  and  these  were  men  that  I  knew, 

Sat  beside,  walked  beside, 

In  the  first  running  of  June,  in  the  careless  pride. 

It  is  hard  to  think  back,  to  find  them,  to  see  their  eyes 

And  none  born  since  shall  see  those,  and  the  books  are  lies, 

Being  either  praise  or  blame. 

But  they  were  in  their  first  youth.  It  is  not  the  same. 

You,  who  are  young,  remember  that  youth  dies. 

Go,  stranger,  and  to  Lacedemon  tell, 

They  were  shot  and  rotted,  they  fell 


Burning,  on  flimsy  wings. 

And  yet  it  was  their  thought  that  they  did  well. 

And  yet  there  are  still  the  tyrants  and  the  kings. 


For  all  those  beaten,  for  the  broken  heads, 

The  fosterless,  the  simple,  the  oppressed, 

The  ghosts  in  the  burning  city  or  our  time  .  .  . 

For  those  taken  in  rapid  cars  to  the  house  and  beaten 

By  the  skilful  boys,  the  boys  with  the  rubber  fists, 

—Held  down  and  beaten,  the  table  cutting  their  loins, 

Or  kicked  in  the  groin  and  left,  with  the  muscles  jerking 

Like  a  headless  hen's  on  the  floor  of  the  slaughter-house 

While  they  brought  the  next  man  in  with  his  white  eyes  staring. 

For  those  who  still  said  "Red  Front! "  or  "God  Save  the  Crown! " 

And  for  those  who  were  not  courageous 

But  were  beaten  nevertheless. 

For  those  who  spit  out  the  bloody  stumps  of  their  teeth 

Quietly  in  the  hall, 

Sleep  well  on  stone  or  iron,  watch  for  the  time 

Arid  kill  the  guard  in  the  privy  before  they  die, 

Those  with  the  deep-socketea  eyes  and  the  lamp  burning. 

For  those  who  carry  the  scars,  who  walk  lame—for  those 
Whose  nameless  graves  are  made  in  the  prison-yard 
And  the  earth  smoothed  back  before  morning  and  the  lime  scat- 

For  those  slain  at  once.  For  those  living  through  months  and 


Enduring,  watching,  hoping,  going  each  day 
To  the  work  or  the  queue  for  meat  or  the  secret  club, 
Living  meanwhile,  begetting  children,  smuggling  guns, 
And  found  and  killed  at  th$  end  like  rats  in  a  drain. 

For  those  escaping 

Incredibly  into  exile  and  wandering  there. 

For  those  who  live  in  the  small  rooms  of  foreign  cities 


And  who  yet  think  of  the  country,  the  long  green  grass, 
The  childhood  voices,  the  language,  the  way  wind  smelt  then, 
The  shape  of  rooms,  the  coffee  drunk  at  the  table, 
The  talk  with  friends,  the  loved  city,  the  waiter's  face, 
The  gravestones,  with  the  name,  where  they  will  not  lie 
Nor  in  any  of  that  earth.  Their  children  are  strangers. 

For  those  who  planned  and  were  leaders  and  were  beaten 
And  for  those,  humble  and  stupid,  who  had  no  plan 
But  were  denounced,  but  grew  angry,  but  told  a  joke, 
But  could  not  explain,  but  were  sent  away  to  the  camp, 
But  had  their  bodies  shipped  back  in  the  sealed  coffins, 
"Died  of  pneumonia."  "Died  trying  to  escape." 

For  those  growers  of  wheat  who  were  shot  by  their  own  wheat- 

For  those  growers  of  bread  who  were  sent  to  the  ice-locked 

And  their  flesh  remembers  their  fields. 

For  those  denounced  by  their  smug,  horrible  children 

For  a  peppermint-star  and  the  praise  of  the  Perfect  State, 

For  all  those  strangled  or  gelded  or  merely  starved 

To  make  perfect  states;  for  the  priest  hanged  in  his  cassock, 

The  Jew  with  his  chest  crushed  in  and  his  eyes  dying, 

The  revolutionist  lynched  by  the  private  guards 

To  make  perfect  states,  in  the  names  of  the  perfect  states. 

For  those  betrayed  by  the  neighbors  they  shook  hands  with 
And  for  the  traitors,  sitting  in  the  hard  chair 
With  the  loose  sweat  crawling  their  hair  and  their  fingers  rest- 
As  they  tell  the  street  and  the  house  and  the  man's  name. 

And  for  those  sitting  at  table  in  the  house 

With  the  lamp  lit  and  the  plates  and  the  smell  of  food, 

Talking  so  quietly;  when  they  hear  the  cars 

And  the  knock  at  the  door,  and  they  look  at  each  other  quickly 

And  the  woman  goes  to  the  door  with  a  stiff  face, 

Smoothing  her  dress. 

"We  are  all  good  citizens  here. 
We  believe  in  the  Perfect  State." 

And  that  was  the  l^st 


Time  Tony  or  Karl  or  Shorty  came  to  the  house 
And  the  family  was  liquidated  later. 
It  was  the  last  time. 

We  heard  the  shots  in  the  night 
But  nobody  knew  next  day  what  the  trouble  was 
And  a  man  must  go  to  his  work.  So  I  didn't  see  him 
For  three  days,  then,  and  me  near  out  of  my  mind 
And  all  the  patrols  on  the  streets  with  their  dirty  guns 
And  when  he  came  back,  he  looked  drunk,  and  the  blood  was 
on  him. 

For  the  women  who  mourn  their  dead  in  the  secret  night, 
For  the  children  taught  to  keep  quiet,  the  old  children, 
The  children  spat-on  at  school. 

For  the  wrecked  laboratory, 

The  gutted  house,  the  dunged  picture,  the  pissed-in  well, 
The  naked  corpse  of  Knowledge  flung  in  the  square 
And  no  man  lifting  a  hand  and  no  man  speaking. 

For  the  cold  of  the  pistol-butt  and  the  bullet's  heat, 
For  the  rope  that  chokes,  the  manacles  that  bind, 
The  huge  voice,  metal,  that  lies  from  a  thousand  tubes 
And  the  stuttering  machine-gun  that  answers  all. 

For  the  man  crucified  on  the  crossed  machine-guns 
Without  name,  without  resurrection,  without  stars, 
His  dark  head  heavy  with  death  and  his  flesh  long  sour 
With  the  smell  of  his  many  prisons— John  Smith,  John  Doe, 
John  Nobody— oh,  crack  your  mind  for  his  name! 
Faceless  as  water,  naked  as  the  dust, 
Dishonored  as  the  earth  the  gas-shells  poison 
And  barbarous  with  portent. 

This  is  he. 

This  is  the  man  they  ate  at  the  green  table 
Putting  their  gloves  on  ere  they  touched  the  meat. 
This  is  the  fruit  of  war,  the  fruit  of  peace, 
The  ripeness  of  invention,  the  new  lamb, 
The  answer  to  the  wisdom  of  the  wise. 
And  still  he  hangs,  and  still  he  will  not  die, 
And  still,  on  the  steel  city  of  our  years 
The  light  fails  and  the  terrible  blood  streams  down. 

4?  i 

We  thought  we  were  done  with  these  things  but  we  were 


We  thought,  because  we  had  power,  we  had  wisdom. 
We  thought  the  long  train  would  run  to  the  end  of  Time. 
We  thought  the  light  would  increase. 
Now  the  long  train  stands  derailed  and  the  bandits  loot  it. 
Now  the  boar  and  the  asp  have  power  in  our  time. 
Now  the  night  rolls  back  on  the  West  and  the  night  is  solid. 
Our  fathers  and  ourselves  sowed  dragon's  teeth. 
Our  children  know  and  suffer  the  armed  men. 


(FEBRUARY  i  I—FEBRUARY  15,  1934) 

They  shot  the  Socialists  at  half-past  five 
In  the  name  of  victorious  Austria. 

The  sky 

Was  blue  with  February  those  four  cold  days 
And  the  little  snow  lay  lightly  on  the  hard  ground. 
(Vienna's  the  laughing  city  of  tunes  and  wine, 
Of  Schlagobers  and  starved  children  .  .  .  and  a  great  ghost .  .  .) 
They  had  called  the  general  strike  but  the  plans  went  wrong 
Though  the  lights  failed,  that  first  night. 

It  is  odd  to  turn 

The  switch  by  your  bed  and  have  no  lamp  go  on 
And  then  look  out  of  the  windows  at  the  black  street 
Empty,  except  for  a  man  with  a  pistol,  running. 
We  have  built  our  cities  for  lights  and  the  harsh  glare 
And,  when  the  siren  screams  at  the  winter  stars, 
It  is  only  a  fire,  an  ambulance,  nothing  wrong, 
Just  part  of  the  day.  You  can  walk  to  the  corner  store 
And  never  duck  at  a  bullet.  The  lights  are  there 
And,  if  you  see  a  man  with  a  pistol,  running, 
You  phone  the  police  or  wait  xor  tomorrow's  papers. 
It  is  different,  with  the  lights  out  and  the  shots  beginning. . , . 

These  were  ordinary  people. 

The  kind  that  go  to  the  movies  and  watch  parades, 

Have  children,  take  them  to  parks,  ride  in  trolley  cars, 


The  workmen  at  the  next  bench,  the  old,  skilful  foreman; 

You  have  seen  the  backs  of  their  necks  a  million  times 

In  any  crowd  and  forgotten—seen  their  faces, 

Anonymous,  tired,  good-humored,  faces  of  skill. 

(The  quick  hands  moving  deftly  among  machines, 

Hands  of  the  baker  and  the  baker's  wife, 

Hands  gloved  with  rubber,  mending  the  spitting  wire, 

Hands  on  controls  and  levers,  big,  square-palmed  hands 

With  the  dint  of  the  tool  upon  them, 

Dull,  clumsy  fingers  laboring  a  dull  task 

And  others,  writing  and  thoughtful,  or  sensitive 

As  a  setter's  mouth.)  You  have  seen  their  hats  and  their  shoes 

Everywhere,  in  every  city.  They  wear  no  costumes. 

Their  pockets  have  lint  in  them,  and  tobacco-dust. 

Their  races  are  the  faces  of  any  crowd. 

It  was  Monday  when  this  began. 

They  were  slow  to  start  it 

But  they  had  been  pushed  to  the  wall.  They  believed  in  peace, 
Good  houses,  meetings,  elections  and  resolutions, 
Not  the  sudden  killing  in  corners,  the  armored  cars 
Sweeping  the  square,  the  bombs  and  the  bloody  heads, 
But  they'd  seen  what  happened  next  door,  in  another  country, 
To  people  who  believed  in  peace  and  elections 
And  the  same  tide  was  rising  here.  They  could  hear  the  storm. 
They  took  to  their  guns  at  last,  in  the  workmen's  quarters, 
Where  they'd  built  the  houses  for  peace  and  the  sure  future. 

The  houses  were  tall  and  fine, 

Great  blocks  of  manstone,  built  by  people  for  people, 

Not  to  make  one  man  rich.  When  you  do  not  build 

To  make  one  man  rich,  you  can  give  people  light  and  air, 

You  can  have  room  to  turn  round— room  after  the  day— 

You  can  have  books  and  clean  water  and  healthy  sleep, 

A  place  for  children  to  grow  in. 

All  over  the  world  men  knew  about  those  houses. 

Let  us  remember  Karl  Marx  Hof,  Goethe  Hof, 
The  one  called  Matteoti  and  all  the  rest. 
They  were  little  cities  built  by  people  for  people. 
Thev  were  shelled  bv  six-inch  guns. 

It  is  strange  to  go 


Up  the  known  stairs  to  the  familiar  room 

And  point  the  lean  machine-gun  out  of  the  window, 

Strange  to  see  the  black  of  that  powder  upon  your  hands.  .  .  . 

They  had  hidden  arms  against  need  but  they  could  not  find  them 

In  many  cases,  being  ordinary  people. 

The  other  side  was  much  readier— Fey  and  Dollfuss 

And  all  the  shirts  were  quite  ready. 

When  you  believe 

[n  parks  and  elections  and  meetings  and  not  in  death, 
Not  in  Caesar, 

It  is  hard  to  realize  that  the  day  may  come 
When  you  send  your  wife  and  children  down  to  the  cellar 
To  be  out  of  the  way  of  shells,  and  mount  the  known 
Countable  stairs  to  the  familiar  room, 
The  unfamiliar  pistol  cold  in  your  fist 
And  your  mouth  dry  with  despair. 

It  is  hard  to  think 
[n  spite  of  all  oppression,  all  enmity, 
That  that  is  going  to  happen. 
And  so,  when  it  does  happen,  your  plans  go  wrong. 
(White  flags  on  the  Karl  Marx  Hof  and  the  Goethe  Hof 
And  the  executions,  later.) 

A  correspondent 

Of  the  British  press  remarked,  when  the  thing  was  done 
\nd  they  let  him  in  to  see  it,  that  on  the  whole 
The  buildings  were  less  damaged  than  you'd  expect 
From  four  days'  bullets.  True,  he  had  seen,  before, 
A.  truckload  of  undertakers  and  cheap,  pine  coffins 
So  to  the  disputed  district. 

But  the  buildings  stood,  on  the  whole.  They  had  built  them 

These  were  ordinary  people  and  they  are  dead. 
Dead  where  they  lived,  by  violence,  in  their  own  homes, 
Between  the  desk  and  the  door  and  the  kitchen  chair, 
Dead  in  the  courtyards  where  the  children  played 
(The  child's  jaw  smashed  by  a  bullet,  the  bloody  crib, 
The  woman  sprawled  like  a  rag  on  the  clean  stairs) 
LJncaesarlike,  unwarlike,  merely  dead. 

Dead,  or  in  exile  many,  or  afraid 

(And  those  who  live  there  still  and  wake  in  the  night, 


Remembering  the  free  city) 

Silent  or  hunted  and  their  leaders  slimed. 

The  communists  said  they  would  not  fight  but  they  f 

Four  days  of  bitter  February, 

Ill-led,  outnumbered,  the  radio  blaring  lies 

And  the  six-inch  guns  against  them  and  all  hope  gone, 

Four  days  in  the  Karl  Marx  Hof  and  the  Goethe  Hof 

And  nobody  knows  yet  how  many  dead 

And  sensible  men  give  in  and  accept  the  flag, 

The  badge,  the  arm-band,  the  gag,  the  slave-tyranny, 

The  shining,  tin  peace  of  Caesar. 

They  were  not  sensible, 
Four  days  of  February,  two  years  ago. 

Bring  no  flowers  here, 
Neither  of  mountain  nor  valley, 
Nor  even  the  common  flowers  of  the  waste  field 
That  still  are  free  to  the  poor; 

No  wreaths  upon  these  graves,  these  houseless  graves; 
But  bring  alone  the  powder-blackened  brass 
Of  the  shell-case,  the  slag  of  bullets,  the  ripped  steel 
And  the  bone-spattering  lead, 
Infertile,  smelling  acridly  of  death, 

And  heap  them  here,  till  the  rusting  of  guns,  for  remembrance. 



(VACHEL  LINDSAY,  NOVEMBER  10,  1879— DECEMBER  5,  1931) 

The  Illinois  earth  is  black 
(Do  you  remember,  Springfield?) 
The  State  is  shaped  like  a  heart, 
Shaped  like  an  arrowhead. 

The  black  earth  goes  deep  down. 
(Do  you  remember,  Springfield?) 
Three  feet  under  the  plow 
You  can  find  the  black  earth  still. 


The  towns  settled,  the  woods 
Fine  in  the  spring  and  autumn, 
The  waters  large  and  rolling, 
The  black  earth  ready  to  hand. 

Surely  this  earth,  this  air 
Should  bear  the  prophet-singers, 
Minstrels  like  colts  unbroken, 
Minstrels  of  leaves  and  corn. 

Baltimore  gave  a  stone, 
A  stone  to  another  singer 
(Do  you  remember,  Springfield?) 
But  that  was  in  years  gone  by. 

A  cat  to  tear  at  his  breast 
And  a  glass  to  work  him  madness, 
That  was  the  gift  to  Poe: 
But  things  are  different  here. 

There  are  votes  here  to  be  bought 
And  rich  men  here  to  buy  them; 
What  more  could  a  poet  ask 
Of  the  streets  where  Lincoln  strode? 

The  Board  of  Health  is  superb. 
The  ladies  watchful  and  cultured. 
What  more  could  a  poet  need 
Or  the  heart  of  man  desire? 

Gather  the  leaves  with  rakes, 
The  burning  autumn,  Springfield, 
Gather  them  in  with  rakes 
Lestjone  of  them  turn  to  gold. 

A  leaf  is  only  a  leaf, 
It  is  worth  nothing,  in  Springfield. 
It  is  worth  as  little  as  song, 
Little  as  light  and  air. 

Trap  the  lark  in  the  corn, 

Let  it  tell  of  your  bounty,  Springfield. 


If  you  burn  its  eyes  with  a  wire 
It  still  will  sing  for  a  space. 

A  man  is  another  affair. 
We  understand  that,  in  Springfield. 
If  he  sings,  why,  let  him  sing 
As  long  as  we  need  not  hear. 

He  came  with  singing  leaves; 
It  was  really  most  unfortunate. 
The  Lindsays  and  the  Frazees 
Are  sturdy  pioneer  stock. 

He  came  with  broncos  and  clouds 
And  the  cornsilk  of  the  moonlight. 
It  is  not  a  usual  thing 
In  Springfield,  Illinois. 

We  will  show  his  room  and  his  book 
For  that  brings  trade  to  the  city. 
We  try  to  use  everything. 
If  you  like,  you  can  see  his  grave. 

His  mouth  is  stopped  with  earth, 
The  deep,  black  earth  of  Springfield. 
He  will  not  sing  any  more. 
It  is  fine  earth  for  the  mute. 

Let  us  give  the  Arts  their  due 
And  Lincoln  a  marble  courthouse. 
Both  are  respectably  dead. 
They  need  not  trouble  us,  now. 

Break  the  colts  to  the  plow 
And  make  them  pull  their  hearts  out. 
Break  the  broncos  of  dancing 
And  sell  them  for  bones  and  '. 



(MAY  31,  1819— MARCH  26,  1892) 

Now  comes  Fourth  Month  and  the  early  buds  on  the  trees. 
By  the  roads  of  Long  Island,  the  forsythia  has  flowered, 
In  the  North,  the  cold  will  be  breaking;  even  in  Maine 
The  cold  will  be  breaking  soon;  the  young,  bull-voiced  freshets 
Roar  from  green  mountains,  gorging  the  chilly  brooks 
With  the  brown,  trout-feeding  waters,  the  unlocked  springs; 
Now  Mississippi  stretches  with  the  Spring  rains.  .  .  . 

It  is  forty  years  and  more, 
The  time  of  the  ripeness  and  withering  of  a  man, 
Since  you  lay  in  the  house  in  Camden  and  heard,  at  last, 
The  great,  slow  footstep,  splashing  the  Third  Month  snow 
In  the  little,  commonplace  street 
—Town  snow,  already  trampled  and  growing  old, 
Soot-flecked  and  dingy,  patterned  with  passing  feet, 
The  bullet-pocks  of  rain,  the  strong  urine  of  horses, 
The  slashing,  bright  steel  runners  01  small  boys'  sleds 
Hitching  on  behind  the  fast  cutters. 
They  dragged  their  sleds  to  the  tops  of  the  hills  and  yelled 
The  Indian  yell  of  all  boyhood,  for  pftre  joy 
Of  the  cold  and  the  last  gold  light  and  the  swift  rush  down 
Belly-flopping  into  darkness,  into  bedtime. 
You  saw  them  come  home,  late,  hungry  and  burning-cheeked, 
The  boys  and  girls,  the  strong  children, 

Dusty  with  snow,  their  mittens  wet  with  the  silver  drops  of 
thawed  snow. 

All  winter  long,  you  had  heard  their  sharp  footsteps  passing, 

The  skating  crunch  of  their  runners, 

An  old  man,  tied  to  a  house,  after  many  years, 

An  old  man  wifh  his  rivery,  clean  white  hail, 

His  bright  eyes,  his  majestic  poverty, 

His  fresh  pink  skin  like  the  first  strawberry-bloom, 

His  innocent,  large,  easy  old  man's  clothes 

—Brown  splotches  on  the  hands  of  clean  old  men 

At  County  Farms  or  sitting  on  warm  park-benches 

Like  patient  flies,  talking  of  their  good  sons, 

"Yes,  my  son's  good  to  me"— 

An  old  man,  poor,  without  sons,  waiting  achingly 

For  spring  to  warm  his  lameness, 

For  spring  to  flourish, 

And  yet,  when  the  eyes  glowed,  neither  old  nor  tied. 

All  winter  long  there  had  been  footsteps  passing, 

Steps  of  postmen  and  neighbors,  quick  steps  of  friends, 

All  winter  long  you  had  waited  that  great,  snow-treading  stepf 

The  enemy,  the  vast  comrade, 

The  step  behind,  in  the  wards,  when  the  low  lamp  flickered 

And  the  sick  boy  gasped  for  breath, 

"Lean  on  me!  Lean  upon  my  shoulder!  By  God,  you  shall  not 

The  step  ahead,  on  the  long,  wave-thundering  beaches  of  Pau- 


Invisible,  printless,  weighty, 

The  shape  half-seen  through  the  wet,  sweet  sea-fog  of  youth, 
Night's  angel  and  the  dark  Sea's, 
The  grand,  remorseless  treader, 
Magnificent  Death. 

'Let  me  taste  all,  my  flesh  and  my  fat  are  sweet, 

Vly  body  hardy  as  lilac,  the  strong  flower. 

i  have  tasted  the  calamus;  I  can  taste  the  nightbane." 

\lways  the  water  about  you  since  you  were  born, 

The  endless  lapping  of  water,  the  strong  motion, 

fhe  gulls  by  the  ferries  knew  you,  and  the  wild  sea-birds, 

The  sandpiper,  printing  the  beach  with  delicate  prints. 

Vt  last,  old,  wheeled  to  the  wharf,  you  still  watched  the  water, 

The  tanned  boys,  flat-bodied,  diving,  the  passage  of  ships, 

The  proud  port,  distant,  the  people,  the  work  of  harbors.  .  .  . 

I  have  picked  out  a  bit  of  hill  with  a  southern  exposure, 
like  to  be  near  the  trees.  I  like  to  be  near 
fhe  water-sound  of  the  trees." 

tfow,  all  was  the  same  in  the  cluttered,  three-windowed  room, 
^ow-ceiled,  getting  the  sun  like  a  schooner's  cabin, 
The  crowding  photos  hiding  the  ugly  wall-paper. 
The  floor-litter,  the  strong  chair,  timbered  like  a  ship, 
The  hairy  black-and-silver  of  the  old  wolfskin; 


In  the  back-yard,  neither  lilac  nor  pear  yet  bloomed 

But  the  branch  of  the  lilac  swelling  with  first  sap; 

And  there,  in  the  house,  the  figures,  the  nurse,  the  woman, 

The  passing  doctor,  the  friends,  the  little  clan, 

The  disciple  with  the  notebook  who's  always  there. 

All  these  and  the  pain  and  the  water-bed  to  ease  you 
And  you  said  it  rustled  of  oceans  and  were  glad 
And  the  pain  shut  and  relaxed  and  shut  once  more. 

"Old  body,  counsellor,  why  do  you  thus  torment  me? 
Have  we  not  been  friends  from  our  youth?" 

But  now  it  came, 

Slow,  perceived  by  no  others, 

The  splashing  step  through  the  grey,  soft,  Saturday  rain, 

Inexorable  footstep  of  the  huge  friend. 

"Are  you  there  at  last,  fine  enemy? 

Ah,  haste,  friend,  hasten,  come  closer! 

Breathe  upon  me  with  your  grave,  your  releasing  lips! 

I  have  heard  and  spoken;  watched  the  bodies  of  boys 

Flash  in  the  copper  sun  and  dive  to  green  waters, 

Seen  the  fine  ships  and  the  strong  matrons  and  the  tall  axemen, 

The  young  girls,  free,  athletic;  the  drunkard,  retching 

In  his  poor  dream;  the  thief  taken  by  officers; 

The  President,  calm,  grave,  advising  the  nation; 

The  infant,  with  milk-wet  lips  in  his  bee-like  slumber. 

They  are  mine;  all,  all  are  mine;  must  I  leave  them,  truly? 

I  have  cherished  them  in  my  veins  like  milk  and  fruit. 

I  have  warmed  them  at  my  bare  breast  like  the  eggs  of  pigeons. 

The  great  plains  of  the  buffalo  are  mine,  the  towns,  the  hills,  the 

ship-bearing  waters. 
These  States  are  my  wandering  sons. 
I  had  them  in^ny  youth;  I  cannot  desert  them. 
The  green  leaf  of  America  is  printed  on  my  heart  forever." 

Now  it  entered  the  house,  it  marched  upon  the  stair. 

By  the  bedside  the  faces  dimmed,  the  huge  shoulder  blotting 


-It  is  so  they  die  on  the  plains,  the  great,  old  buffalo, 
The  herd-leaders,  the  beasts  with  the  kingly  eyes, 
Innocent,  curly-browed, 


They  sink  to  the  earth  like  mountains,  hairy  and  silent, 
And  their  tongues  are  cut  by  the  hunter. 

Oh,  singing  tongue! 

Great  tongue  of  bronze  and  salt  and  the  free  grasses, 
Tongue  of  America,  speaking  for  the  first  time, 
Must  the  hunter  have  you  at  last? 

Now,  face  to  face,  you  saw  him 
And  lifted  the  right  arm  once,  as  a  pilot  lifts  it, 
Signalling  with  the  bell, 

In  the  passage  at  night,  on  the  river  known  yet  unknown, 
—Perhaps  to  touch  his  shoulder,  perhaps  in  pain- 
Then  the  rain  fell  on  the  roof  and  the  twilight  darkened 
And  they  said  that  in  death  you  looked  like  a  marvelous  old,  wise 

It  is  Fourth  Month  now  and  spring  in  another  century, 
Let  us  go  to  the  hillside  and  ask;  he  will  like  to  hear  us; 
"Is  it  good,  the  sleep?" 

"It  is  good,  the  sleep  and  the  waking. 
I  have  picked  out  a  bit  of  hill  where  the  south  sun  warms  me. 
I  like  to  be  near  the  trees." 

Nay,  let  him  ask,  rather. 
"Is  it  well  with  you,  comrades? 
The  cities  great,  portentous,  humming  with  action? 
The  bridges  mightily  spanning  wide-breasted  rivers? 
The  great  plains  growing  the  wheat,  the  old  lilac  hardy,  well- 
Is  it  well  with  these  States?" 

"The  cities  are  great,  portentous,  a  world-marvel, 

The  bridges  arched  like  the  necks  of  beautiful  horses. 

We  have  made  the  dry  land  bloom  and  the  dead  land  blossom." 

"Is  it  well  with  these  States?" 

"The  old  wound  of  your  war  is  healed  and  we  are  one  nation. 
We  have  linked  the  whole  land  with  the  steel  and  the  hard  high- 


We  have  fought  new  wars  and  won  them.  In  the  French  field 

There  are  bones  of  Texarkana  and  Little  Falls, 

Aliens,  our  own;  in  the  low-lying  Belgian  ground; 

In  the  cold  sea  of  the  English;  in  dark-faced  islands. 

Men  speak  of  them  well  or  ill;  they  themselves  are  silent." 

"Is  it  well  with  these  States?" 

"We  have  made  many,  fine  new  toys. 


There  is  a  rust  on  the  land. 

A  rust  and  a  creeping  blight  and  a  scaled  evil, 

For  six  years  eating,  yet  deeper  than  those  six  years, 

Men  labor  to  master  it  but  it  is  not  mastered. 

There  is  the  soft,  grey,  foul  tent  of  the  hatching  worm 

Shrouding  the  elm,  the  chestnut,  the  Southern  cypress. 

There  is  shadow  in  the  bright  sun,  there  is  shadow  upon  the 


They  burn  the  grain  in  the  furnace  while  men  go  hungry. 
They  pile  the  cloth  of  the  looms  while  men  go  ragged. 
We  walk  naked  in  our  plenty." 

"My  tan-faced  children?" 

"These  are  your  tan-faced  children. 

These  skilled  men,  idle,  with  the  holes  in  their  shoes. 

These  drifters  from  State  to  State,  these  wolvish,  bewildered  boys 

Who  ride  the  blinds  and  the  box-cars  from  jail  to  jail, 

Burnt  in  their  youth  like  cinders  of  hot  smokestacks, 

Learning  the  thief's  crouch  and  the  cadger's  whine, 

Dishonored,  abandoned,  disinherited. 

These,  dying  in  the  brigfit  sunlight  they  cannot  eat, 

Or  the  strong  men,  sitting  at  home,  their  hands  clasping  nothing, 

Looking  at  thek  lost  hands. 

These  are  your  tan-faced  children,  the  parched  young, 

The  old  man  rooting  in  waste-heaps,  the  family  rotting 

In  the  flat,  before  eviction, 

With  the  toys  of  plenty  about  them, 

The  shiny  toys  making  ice  and  music  and  light, 

But  no  price  for  the  shiny  toys  and  the  last  can  empty. 

The  sleepers  in  blind  corners  of  the  night. 

The  women  with  dry  breasts  and  phantom  eyes. 



The  walkers  upon  nothing,  the  four  million. 
These  are  your  tan-faced  children." 

"But  the  land?" 

"Over  the  great  plains  of  the  buffalo-land, 

The  dust-storm  blows,  the  choking,  sifting,  small  dust. 

The  skin  of  that  land  is  ploughed  by  the  dry,  fierce  wind 

And  blown  away,  like  a  torrent; 

It  drifts  foot-high  above  the  young  sprouts  of  grain 

And  the  water  fouls,  the  horses  stumble  and  sicken, 

The  wash-board  cattle  stagger  and  die  of  drought. 

We  tore  the  buffalo's  pasture  with  the  steel  blade. 

We  made  the  waste  land  blossom  and  it  has  blossomed. 

That  was  our  fate;  now  that  land  takes  its  own  revenge, 

And  the  giant  dust-flower  blooms  above  five  States." 

"But  the  gains  of  the  years,  who  got  them? 

"Many,  great  gains. 

Many,  yet  few;  they  robbed  us  in  the  broad  daylight, 
Saying,  'Give  us  this  and  that;  we  are  kings  and  titans; 
We  know  the  ropes;  we  are  solid;  we  are  hard-headed; 
We  will  build  you  cities  and  railroads. '—as  if  they  built  them! 
They,  the  preying  men,  the  men  whose  hearts  were  like  engines, 
Gouging  the  hills  for  gold,  laying  waste  the  timber, 
The  men  like  band-sawk,  moving  over  the  land. 
Ant4.,  after  them,  the  others, 
Soft  bodied,  lacking  even  the  pirate's  candor, 
Men  ot  paper,  robbing  by  paper,  with  paper  faces, 
Rustling  like  frightened  paper  when  the  storm  broke. 
The  men  with  the  jaws  of  moth  and  aphis  and  beetle, 
Boring  the  dusty,  secret  hole  in  the  corn, 
Fixed,  sucking  the  land,  with  neither  wish  nor  pride 
But  the  wish  to  suck  and  continue. 
They  have  been  sprayed,  a  little. 
But  they  say  they  will  have  the  land  back  again,  these  men." 

"There  were  many  such  in  my  time. 

I  have  seen  the  rich  arrogant  and  the  poor  oppressed. 

I  have  seen  democracy,  also.  I  have  seen 

The  good  man  slain,  the  knave  and  the  fool  in  power, 


The  democratic  vista  botched  by  the  people, 
Yet  not  despaired,  loving  the  giant  land, 
Though  I  prophesied  to  these  States," 

"Now  they  say  we  must  have  one  tyranny  or  another 
And  a  dark  bell  rings  in  our  hearts." 

"Was  the  blood  spilt  for  nothing,  then?" 

Under  dry  winter 
Arbutus  grows. 
It  is  careless  of  man. 
It  is  careless  of  man. 

Man  can  tear  it, 
Crush  it,  destroy  it; 
Uproot  the  trailers, 
The  thumb-shaped  leafmgs. 

A  man  in  grey  clothes 
May  come  there  also, 
Lie  all  day  there 
In  weak  spring  sunlight. 

White,  firm-muscled, 
The  flesh  of  his  body; 
Wind,  sun,  earth 
In  him,  possessing  him. 

In  his  heart 

A  flock  of  birds  crying. 

In  his  belly 

The  new  grass  growing. 

In  his  skull 

Sunlight  and  silence, 

Like  a  vast  room 

Full  of  sunlight  and  silence. 

In  the  lines  of  his  palms 
The  roads  of  America, 


In  the  knots  of  his  hands 
The  anger  of  America. 

In  the  sweat  of  his  flesh 
The  sorrows  of  America, 
In  the  seed  of  his  loins 
The  glory  of  America. 

The  sap  of  the  birch-tree 
Is  in  his  pelt, 
The  maple,  the  red-bud 
Are  his  nails  and  parings. 

He  grows  through  the  earth  and  is  part  of  it  like  the  roots  of 
new  grass. 

Little  arbutus 
Delicate,  tinted, 
Tiny,  tender, 
Fragile,  immortal. 

If  you  can  grow, 
A  man  can  grow 
Not  like  others 
But  like  a  man. 

Man  is  a  bull 
But  he  has  not  slain  you 
And  this  man  lies 
Like  a  lover  beside  you. 

Beside  the  arbutus, 
The  green-leaved  Spring, 
He  lies  like  a  lover 
By  his  young  bride, 
In  the  white  hour, 
The  white,  first  waking. 

They  say,  they  say,  they  say  and  let  them  $ay. 
Call  you  a  revolutionist— you  were  one— 
A  nationalist— you  were  one— a  man  of  peace, 


A  man  describing  battles,  an  old  fraud, 

A  Charlus,  an  adept  self-advertiser, 

A  "good,  grey  poet"—oh,  God  save  us  all! 

God  save  us  from  the  memoirs  and  the  memories! 

And  yet,  they  count.  They  have  to.  If  they  didn't 

There'd  be  no  Ph.Ds.  And  each  disciple 

Jealously  guards  his  own  particular  store 

Of  acorns  fallen  from  the  oak's  abundance 

And  spits  and  scratches  at  the  other  gatherers. 

"I  was  there  when  he  died! " 

"He  was  not  there  when  he  died!" 
"It  was  me  he  trusted,  me!  X  got  on  his  nerves! 
He  couldn't  stand  X  in  the  room!" 

"Y's  well-intentioned 
But  a  notorious  liar— and,  as  f or  Z  .  .  ." 

So  all  disciples,  always  and  forever. 

—And  the  dire  court  at  Longwood,  those  last  years, 

The  skull  of  Sterne,  grinning  at  the  anatomists, 

Poe's  hospital-bed,  the  madness  of  the  Dean, 

The  bright,  coughing  blood  Keats  wrote  in  to  the  girl, 

The  terrible  corpse  of  France,  shrunk,  naked  and  solitary— 

Oh,  yes,  you  were  spared  some  things. 

Though  why  did  Mrs.  Davis  sue  the  estate 

And  what  did  you  mean  when  you  said — 

And  who  cares? 

You're  still  the  giant  lode  we  quarry 
For  gold,  fools'  gold  and  all  the  earthy  metals, 
The  matchless  mine. 
Still  the  trail-breaker,  still  the  rolling  river. 

You  and  your  land,  your  turbulent,  seeking  land 
Where  anything  can  grow. 

And  they  have  wasted  the  pasture  and  the  fresh  valley, 

Stunk  the  river,  shot  the  ten  thousand  sky-darkening  pigeons 

To  build  sham  castles  for  imitation  Medici 

And  the  rugged  sons  of  the  rugged  sons  of  death. 

The  slum,  the  sharecropper's  cabin,  the  senseless  tower, 

The  factory  town  with  the  dirty  stoops  of  twilight, 

The  yelling  cheapness,  the  bitter  want  among  plenty, 

But  never  MonticcJlo,  never  again. 


And  there  are  many  years  in  the  dust  of  America 
And  they  are  not  ended  yet. 

Far  north,  far  north  are  the  sources  of  the  great  river, 

The  headwaters,  the  cold  lakes, 

By  the  little  sweet-tasting  brooks  of  the  blond  country, 

The  country  of  snow  and  wheat, 

Or  west  among  the  black  mountains,  the  glacial  springs. 

Far  north  and  west  they  lie  and  few  come  to  them,  few  taste 


But,  day  and  night,  they  flow  south, 
By  the  French  grave  and  the  Indian,  steadily  flowing, 
By  the  forgotten  camps  of  the  broken  heart, 
By  the  countries  of  black  earth,  fertile,  and  yellow  earth  and  red 


A  growing,  a  swelling  torrent: 
Rivers  meet  it,  and  tiny  rivulets, 
Meet  it,  stain  it, 

Great  rivers,  rivers  of  pride,  come  bowing  their  watery  heads 
Like  muddy  gift-bearers,  bringing  their  secret  burdens, 
Rivers  from  the  high  horse-plains  and  the  deep,  green  Eastern 

Sink  into  it  and  are  lost  and  rejoice  and  shout  with  it,  shout 

within  it, 

They  and  their  secret  gifts, 

A  fleck  of  gold  from  Montana,  a  sliver  of  steel  from  Pittsburgh, 
A  wheat-grain  from  Minnesota,  an  apple-blossom  from  Ten- 

Roiled,  mixed  with  the  mud  and  earth  of  the  changing  bottoms 
In  the  vast,  rending  floods, 
But  rolling,  rolling  from  Arkansas,  Kansas,  Iowa, 
Rolling  from  Ohio,  Wisconsin,  Illinois, 
Rolling  and  shouting: 
Till,  at  last,  it  is  Mississippi, 

The  Father  of  Waters;  the  matchless;  the  great  flood 
Dyed  with  the  earth  of  States;  with  the  dust  and  the  sun  and 

the  seed  of  half  the  States; 
The  huge  heart- vein,  pulsing  and  pulsing;  gigantic;  ever  broader, 

ever  mightier; 

It  rolls  past  broken  landings  and  camellia-smelling  woods;  strange 
birds  fly  over  it; 


It  rolls  through  the  tropic  magic,  the  almost- jungle,  the  warm 

darkness  breeding  the  warm,  enormous  stars; 
It  rolls  to  the  blue  Gulf;  ocean;  and  the  painted  birds  fly. 
The  grey  moss  mixes  with  it,  the  hawk's  leather  has  fallen  in  it, 
The  cardinal  feather,  the  feather  of  the  small  thrush 
Singing  spring  to  New  England, 

The  apple-pip  and  the  pepper-seed  and  the  checkerberry, 
And  always  the  water  flowing,  earthy,  majestic, 
Fed  with  snow  and  heat,  dew  and  moonlight. 
Always  the  wide,  sure  water, 
Over  the  rotted  deer-horn 
The  gold,  Spanish  money, 
The  long-rusted  iron  of  many  undertakings, 
Over  De  Soto's  bones  and  Joliet's  wonder, 
And  the  long  forest-years  before  them,  the  brief  years  after, 
The  broad  flood,  the  eternal  motion,  the  restless-hearted 
Always,  forever,  Mississippi,  the  god. 



It  rained  quite  a  lot,  that  spring.  You  woke  in  the  morning 

And  saw  the  sky  still  clouded,  the  streets  still  wet, 

But  nobody  noticed  so  much,  except  the  taxis 

And  the  people  who  parade.  You  don't,  in  a  city. 

The  parks  got  very  green.  All  the  trees  were  green 

Far  into  July  and  August,  heavy  with  leaf, 

Heavy  with  leaf  and  the  long  roots  boring  and  spreading, 

But  nobody  noticed  that  but  the  city  gardeners 

And  they  don't  talk. 

Oh,  on  Sundays,  perhaps,  you'd  notice: 
Walking  through  certain  blocks,  by  the  shut,  proud  houses 
With  the  windows  boarded,  the  people  gone  away, 
You'd  suddenly  see  the  queerest  small  shoots  of  green 
Poking  through  cracks  and  crevices  in  the  stone 
And  a  bird-sown  flower,  red  on  a  balcony, 
But  then  you  made  jokes  about  grass  growing  in  the  streets 
And  politics  and  grass-roots— and  there  were  songs 
And  gags  and  a  musical  show  called  "Hot  and  Wet." 
It  all  made  a  good  box  for  the  papers.  When  the  flamingo 


Flew  into  a  meeting  of  the  Board  of  Estimate, 
The  new  Mayor  acted  at  once  and  called  the  photographers. 
When  the  first  green  creeper  crawled  upon  Brooklyn  Bridge, 
They  thought  it  was  ornamental.  They  let  it  stay. 

That  was  the  year  the  termites  came  to  New  York 

And  they  don't  do  well  in  cold  climates—but  listen,  Joe, 

They're  only  ants  and  ants  are  nothing  but  insects. 

It  was  funny  and  yet  rather  wistful,  in  a  way 

(As  Heywood  Broun  pointed  out  in  the  World-Telegram) 

To  think  of  them  looking  for  wood  in  a  steel  city. 

It  made  you  feel  about  life.  It  was  too  divine. 

There  were  funny  pictures  by  all  the  smart,  funny  artists 

And  Macy's  ran  a  terribly  clever  ad: 

"The  Widow's  Termite"  or  something. 

There  was  no 

Disturbance.  Even  the  Communists  didn't  protest 
And  say  they  were  Morgan  hirelings.  It  was  too  hot, 
Too  hot  to  protest,  too  hot  to  get  excited, 
An  even,  African  heat,  lush,  fertile  and  steamy, 
That  soaked  into  bone  and  mind  and  never  once  broke. 
The  warm  rain  fell  in  fierce  showers  and  ceased  and  fell. 
Pretty  soon  you  got  used  to  its  always  being  that  way. 

You  got  used  to  the  changed  rhythm,  the  altered  beat, 
To  people  walking  slower,  to  the  whole  bright 
Fierce  pulse  of  the  city  slowing,  to  men  in  shorts, 
To  the  ne^r  sun-helmets  from  Best's  and  the  cops'  white  uni- 

And  the  long  noon-rest  in  the  offices,  everywhere. 
tt  wasn't  a  plan  or  anything.  It  just  happened. 
The  fingers  tapped  the  keys  slower,  the  office-boys 
Dozed  on  their  benches,  the  bookkeeper  yawned  at  his  desk. 
The  A.  T.  &  T.  was  the  first  to  change  the  shifts 
\nd  establish  an  official  siesta-room, 
But  they  were  always  efficient.  Mostly  it  just 
Happened  like  sleep  itself,  like  a  tropic  sleep, 
nil  even  the  Thirties  were  deserted  at  noon 
Except  for  a  few  tourists  and  one  damp  cop. 
ITiey  ran  boats  to  see  the  big  lilies  on  the  North  River 
3ut  it  was  only  the  tourists  who  really  noticed 
Fhe  flocks  of  rose-and-green  parrots  and  parrakeets 


Nesting  in  the  stone  crannies  of  the  Cathedral. 
The  rest  of  us  had  forgotten  when  they  first  came. 

There  wasn't  any  real  change,  it  was  just  a  heat  spell, 

A  rain  spell,  a  funny  summer,  a  weather-man's  joke, 

In  spite  of  the  geraniums  three  feet  high 

In  the  tin-can  gardens  of  Hester  and  Desbrosses. 

New  York  was  New  York.  It  couldn't  turn  inside  out. 

When  they  got  the  news  from  Woods  Hole  about  the  Gulf 


The  Times  ran  an  adequate  story. 
But  nobody  reads  those  stories  but  science-cranks. 

Until,  one  day,  a  somnolent  city-editor 

Gave  a  new  cub  the  termite  yarn  to  break  his  teeth  on. 

The  cub  was  just  down  from  Vermont,  so  he  took  the  time. 

He  was  serious  about  it.  He  went  around. 

He  read  all  about  termites  in  the  Public  Library 

And  it  made  him  sore  when  they  fired  him. 

So,  one  evening, 

Talking  with  an  old  watchman,  beside  the  first 
Raw  girders  of  the  new  Planetopolis  Building 
(Ten  thousand  brine-cooled  offices,  each  with  shower) 
He  saw  a  dark  line  creeping  across  the  rubble 
And  turned  a  flashlight  on  it. 

"Say,  buddy,"  he  said, 

"You  better  look  out  for  those  ants.  They  cat  wood,  you  know, 
They'll  have  your  shack  down  in  no  time." 

The  watchman  spat 

"Oh,  they've  quit  eating  wood,"  he  said,  in  a  casual  voice, 
"I  thought  everybody  knew  that." 

—and,  reaching  down, 
He  pried  from  the  insect  jaws  the  bright  crumb  of  steel. 



An  angel  came  to  me  and  stood  by  my  bedside, 
Remarking  in  a  professoriaT-historical-economic  and  irritated 


"If  the  Romans  had  only  invented  a  decent  explosion-engine! 
Not  even  the  best,  not  even  a  Ford  V-8 


But,  say,  a  Model  T  or  even  an  early  Napier, 

They'd  have  built  good  enough  roads  for  it  (they  knew  how  to 

build  roads) 

From  Cape  Wrath  to  Cape  St.  Vincent,  Susa,  Babylon  and  Mos- 

And  the  motorized  legions  never  would  have  fallen,  , 
And  peace,  in  the  sliape  of  a  giant  eagle,  would  brood  over  the 

entire  Western  World! " 
He  changed  his  expression,  looking  now  like  a  combination  of 

Gilbert  Murray,  Hilaire  Belloc  and  a  dozen  other  scientists, 

writers,  and  prophets, 
And  continued,  in  angelic  tones, 
"If  the  Greeks  had  known  how  to  cooperate,  if  there'd  never 

been  a  Reformation, 
If  Sparta  had  not  been  Sparta,  and  the  Church  had  been  the 

Church  of  the  saints, 
The  Argive  peace  like  a  free-blooming  olive-tree,  the  peace  of 

Christ  (who  loved  peace)  like  a  great,  beautiful  vine  enwrap- 
ping the  spinning  earth! 
Take  it  nearer  home,"  he  said. 
'Take  these  Mayans  and  their  star-clocks,  their  carvings  and 

their  great  cities. 
Who  sacked  them  out  of  their  cities,  drowned  the  cities  with  a 

green  jungle? 

A  plague?  A  change  of  climate?  A  queer  migration? 
Certainly  they  were  skilful,  certainly  they  created. 
And,  in  Tenochtitlan,  the  dark  obsidian  knife  and  the  smoking 

heart  on  the  stone  but  a  fair  city, 
And  the  Incas  had  it  worked  out  beautifully  till  Pizarro  smashed 


The  collectivist  state  was  there,  and  the  ladies  very  agreeable. 
They  lacked  steel,  alphabet  and  gunpowder  and  they  had  to  get 

married  when  the  government  said  so.  i 

They  also  lacked  unemployment  and  overproduction. 
For  that  matter,"  he  said,  "take  the  Cro-Magnons, 
The  fellows  with  the  big  skulls,  the  handsome  folk,  the  excellent 

scribers  of  mammoths, 
Physical  gods  and  yet  with  the  sensitive  brain  (they  drew  the 

fine,  running  reindeer). 
What  stopped  them?  What  kept  us  all  from  being  Apollos  and 

Only  with  a  new  taste  to  the  nectar, 

The  laughing  gods,  not  the  cruel,  the  gods  of  song,  not  of  war? 
Supposing  Aurelius,  Confucius,  Napoleon,  Plato,  Gautama,  Alex- 
ander— ' 
Just  to  take  half  a  dozen- 
Had  ever  realized  and  stabilized  the  full  dream? 
How  long,  O  Lord  God  in  the  highest?  How  long,  what  now, 
perturbed  spirit?" 

He  turned  blue  at  the  wingtips  and  disappeared  as  another  angel 

approached  me. 
This  one  was  quietly  but  appropriately  dressed  in  cellophane, 

synthetic  rubber  and  stainless  steel, 

But  his  mask  was  the  blind  mask  of  Arcs,  snouted  for  gas-masks. 
He  was  neither  soldier,  sailor,  farmer,  dictator  nor  munitions- 

Nor  did  he  have  much  conversation,  except  to  say, 
uYou  will  not  be  saved  by  General  Motors  or  the  pre-fabricated 

You  will  not  be  saved  by  dialectic  materialism  or  the  Lambeth 


You  will  not  be  saved  by  Vitamin  D  or  the  expanding  universe. 
In  fact,  you  will  not  be  saved." 
Then  he  showed  his  hand: 
In  his  hand  was  a  woven,  wire  basket,  full  of  seeds,  small  metallic 

and  shining  like  the  seeds  of  portulaca; 
Where  he  sowed  them,  the  green  vine  withered,  and  the  smoke 

and  the  armies  sprang  up. 


We  had  expected  everything  but  revolt 

And  I  kind  of  Bonder  myself  when  they  started  thinking— 

But  there's  no  dice  in  that  now. 

I've  heard  fellows  say 

They  must  have  planned  it  for  years  and  maybe  they  did. 
Looking  back,  you  can  find  little  incidents  here  and  there, 
Like  the  concrete-mixer  in  Jersey  eating  the  wop 
Or  the  roto  press  that  printed  "Fiddle-dee-dee! " 
In  a  three-color  process  all  over  Senator  Sloop, 
Just  as  he  was  making  a  speech.  The  thing  about  that 


Was,  how  could  it  walk  upstairs?  But  it  was  upstairs, 
Clicking  and  mumbling  in  the  Senate  Chamber. 
They  had  to  knock  out  the  wall  to  take  it  away 
And  the  wrecking-crew  said  it  grinned. 

It  was  only  the  best 

Machines,  of  course,  the  superhuman  machines, 
The  ones  we'd  built  to  be  better  than  flesh  and  bone, 
But  the  cars  were  in  it,  of  course  .  .  . 

and  they  hunted  us 

Like  rabbits  through  the  cramped  streets  on  that  Bloody  Mon- 

The  Madison  Avenue  busses  leading  the  charge. 
The  busses  were  pretty  bad— but  I'll  not  forget 
The  smash  of  glass  when  the  Duesenberg  left  the  show-room 
And  pinned  three  brokers  to  the  Racquet  Club  steps 
Or  the  long  howl  of  the  horns  when  they  saw  men  run, 
When  they  saw  them  looking  for  holes  in  the  solid  ground  .  .  . 

I  guess  they  were  tired  of  being  ridden  in 

And  stopped  and  started  by  pygmies  for  silly  ends, 

Of  wrapping  cheap  cigarettes  and  bad  chocolate  bars 

Collecting  nickels  and  waving  platinum  hair 

And  letting  six  million  people  live  in  a  town. 

I  guess  it  was  that.  I  guess  they  got  tired  of  us 

And  the  whole  smell  of  human  hands. 

But  it  was  a  shock 

To  climb  sixteen  flights  of  stairs  to  Art  Zuckow's  office 
(Nobody  took  the  elevators  twice) 
And  find  him  strangled  to  death  in  a  nest  of  telephones, 
The  octopus-tendrils  waving  over  his  head, 
And  a  sort  of  quiet  humming  filling  the  air.  .  .  . 
Do  they  eat?  .  .  .  There  was  red  .  .  .  But  I  did  not  stop  to  look. 
I  don't  know  yet  how  I  got  to  the  roof  in  time 
And  it's  lonely,  here  on  the  roof. 

For  a  while,  I  thought 

That  window-cleaner  would  make  it,  and  keep  me  company. 
But  they  got  him  with  his  own  hoist  at  the  sixteenth  floor 
And  dragged  him  in,  with  a  squeal. 
You  see,  they  cooperate.  Well,  we  taught  them  that 
And  it's  fair  enough,  I  suppose.  You  see,  we  built  them. 
We  taught  them  to  think  for  themselves. 
It  was  bound  to  come.  You  can  see  it  was  bound  to  come* 


And  it  won't  be  so  bad,  in  the  country.  I  hate  to  think 

Of  the  reapers,  running  wild  in  the  Kansas  fields, 

And  the  transport  planes  like  hawks  on  a  chickenyard, 

But  the  horses  might  help.  We  might  make  a  deal  with  the 

At  least,  you've  more  chance,  out  there. 

And  they  need  us,  too. 

They're  bound  to  realize  that  when  they  once  calm  down. 
They'll  need  oil  and  spare  parts  and  adjustments  dnd  tuning  up. 
Slaves?  Well,  in  a  way,  you  know,  we  were  slaves  before. 
There  won't  be  so  much  real  difference— honest,  there  won't. 
(I  wish  I  hadn't  looked  into  that  beauty-parlor 
And  seen  what  was  happening  there. 
But  those  are  female  machines  and  a  bit  high-strung.) 
Oh,  we'll  settle  down.  We'll  arrange  it.  We'll  compromise. 
It  wouldn't  make  sense  to  wipe  out  the  whole  human  race. 
Why,  I  bet  if  I  went  to  my  old  Plymouth  now 
(Of  course  you'd  have  to  do  it  the  tactful  way) 
And  said,  "Look  here!  Who  got  you  the  swell  French  horn?" 
He  wouldn't  turn  me  over  to  those  police  cars; 
At  least  I  don't  think  he  would. 

Oh,  it's  going  to  be  jake. 

There  won't  be  so  much  real  difference-honest,  there  won't— 
And  I'd  go  down  in  a  minute  and  take  my  chance— 
I'm  a  good  American  and  I  always  liked  them— 
Except  for  one  small  detail  that  bothers  me 
And  that's  the  food  proposition.  Because,  you  see, 
The  concrete-mixer  may  have  made  a  mistake, 
And  it  looks  like  just  high  spirits. 
But,  if  it's  got  so  they  like  the  flavor  .  . .  well . . . 


All  night  they  marched,  the  infantrymen  under  pack, 
But  the  hands  gripping  the  rifles  were  naked  bone 
And  the  hollow  pits  of  the  eyes  stared,  vacant  and  black* 
When  the  moonlight  shone. 

The  gas  mask  lay  like  a  blot  on  the  empty  chest, 

The  slanting  helmets  were  spattered  with  rust  and  mold, 


But  they  burrowed  the  hill  for  the  machine-gun  nest 
As  they  had  of  old. 

And  the  guns  rolled,  and  the  tanks,  but  there  was  no  sound, 
Never'  the  gasp  or  rustle  of  living  men 

Where  the  skeletons  strung  their  wire  on  disputed  ground.  .  .  . 
I  knew  them,  then. 

"It  is  eighteen  years,"  I  cried.  "You  must  come  no  more." 
"We  know  your  names.  We  know  that  you  are  the  dead. 
Must  you  march  forever  from  France  and  the  last,  blind  war?" 
"Fool!  From  the  next!"  they  said. 


Now  grimy  April  comes  again, 
Maketh  bloom  the  fire-escapes, 
Maketh  silvers  in  the  rain, 
Maketh  winter  coats  and  capes 
Suddenly  all  worn  and  shabby 
Like  the  fur  of  winter  bears, 
Maketh  kittens,  makcth  baby, 
Maketh  kissing  on  the  stairs. 
Maketh  bug  crawl  out  of  crack, 
Maketh  ticklings  down  the  back 
As  if  sunlight  stroked  the  spine 
To  a  hurdy-gurdy's  whine 
And  the  shower  ran  white  wine. 

April,  April,  sing  cuckoo, 
April,  April,  maketh  new 
Mouse  and  cockroach,  man  and  wife, 
Everything  with  blood  and  life; 
Bloweth,  groweth,  flourisheth, 
Danceth  in  a  ragged  skirt 
On  the  very  stoop  of  Death 
And  will  take  no  mortal  hurt. 
Maketh  dogs  to  whine  and  bound, 
Maketh  cats  to  caterwaul, 
Maketh  lovers,  all  around, 
Whisper  in  the  hall. 


Oh,  and  when  the  night  comes  down 
And  the  shrieking  of  the  town 
Settles  to  the  steady  roar 
Of  a  long  sea-beaten  shore, 
April  hieth,  April  spieth 
Everywhere  a  lover  lieth, 
Bringeth  sweetness,  bringeth  fever, 
Will  not  stop  at  "I  would  liever," 
Will  not  heed,  "Now  God  a  mercy!" 
Turneth  Moral  topsy-versy, 
Bringeth  he  and  she  to  bed, 
Bringeth  ill  to  maidenhead, 
Bringeth  joyance  in  its  stead. 
By  May,  by  May,  she  lieth  sped, 
Yet  still  we  praise  that  crocus  head, 


Do  not  desire  to  seek  who  once  we  were, 

Or  where  we  did,  or  what,  or  in  whose  name. 

Those  buildings  have  been  torn  down.  When  the  first  wreckers 

Tore  the  house  open  like  a  pack  of  cards 

And  the  sun  came  in  all  over,  everywhere, 

They  found  some  old  newspapers  and  a  cork 

And  footprints  on  the  very  dusty  floor 

But  neither  mouse  nor  angel 

Then  even  these 

Went,  even  the  little  marks  of  shabby  shoes, 
The  one  sharp  impress  of  the  naked  heel. 

You  cannot  call  us  up  there  any  more. 
The  number  has  been  changed.  There  was  a  card 
Downstairs,  with  names  and  such,  under  the  bell. 
But  that's  long  gone.  Yes,  and  we,  they  and  you 
And  telegrams  and  flowers  and  the  years 
Went  up  and  down  these  stairs,  day  after  day, 
And  kept  the  stair-rail  polished  with  our  hands. 
But  we  have  moved  to  other  neighborhoods. 


Do  not  arraign  that  doorsill  with  your  eyes 
Nor  try  to  make  your  hardened  mind  recall 
How  tne  old  windows  looked  when  they  were  lit 
Or  who  the  woman  was  on  the  third  floor. 
There  are  no  ghosts  to  raise.  There  is  the  blank 
Face  of  the  stone,  the  hard  line  of  the  street, 
The  boys  crying  through  twilight.  That  is  all. 

Go  buy  yourself  a  drink  and  talk  about  it. 
Carry  a  humming  head  home  through  the  rain. 
But  do  not  wear  rosemary,  touch  cold  iron, 
Or  leave  out  food  before  you  go  to  bed. 
For  there's  no  fear  of  ghosts.  That  boy  and  girl 
Are  dust  the  sparrows  bathe  in,  under  the  sun: 
Under  the  virgin  rock  their  bones  lie  sunken 
Past  pave  and  conduit  and  hidden  waters 
Stifled  like  unborn  children  in  the  darkness, 
Past  light  and  speech,  cable  and  rooted  steel, 
Under  the  caissons,  under  the  foundation. 

Peace,  peace,  for  there  are  people  with  those  names 

Somewhere  or  elsewhere,  and  you  must  not  vex 

Strangers  with  words  about  an  old  address. 

But,  for  those  others,  do  not  be  afraid. 

They  are  beyond  you.  They  are  too  deep  down 

For  steel  to  pierce,  for  engines  to  uncover. 

Not  all  the  desperate  splitters  of  the  earth, 

Nitro  or  air-drill  or  the  chewing  shovel 

Shall  ever  mouth  them  up  from  where  they  lie. 


That  was  the  second  year  of  the  Third  World  War, 
The  one  between  Us  and  Them. 

Well    weVe  gotten  used. 
We  don't  talk  much  about  it,  queerly  enough. 
There  was  all  sorts  of  talk  the  first  years  after  the  Peace, 
A  million  theories,  a  million  wild  suppositions, 
A  million  hopeful  explanations  and  plans, 
But  we  don't  talk  about  it,  now.  We  don't  even  ask. 


We  might  do  the  wrong  thing.  I  don't  guess  you'd  understand 

But  you're  eighteen,  now.  You  can  take  it.  You'd  better  know. 

You  see,  you  were  born  just  before  the  war  broke  out. 

Who  started  it?  Oh,  they  said  it  was  Us  or  Them 

And  it  looked  like  it  at  the  time.  You  don't  know  what  that's  like. 

But  anyhow,  it  started  and  there  it  was, 

Just  a  little  worse,  of  course,  than  the  one  before, 

But  mankind  was  used  to  that.  We  didn't  take  notice. 

They  bombed  our  capital  and  we  bombed  theirs. 

You've  been  to  the  Broken  Towns?  Yes,  they  take  you  there. 

They  show  you  the  look  of  the  tormented  earth. 

But  they  can't  show  the  smell  or  the  gas  or  the  death 

Or  how  it  felt  to  be  there,  and  a  part  of  it. 

But  we  didn't  know.  I  swear  that  we  didn't  know. 

I  remember  the  first  faint  hint  there  was  something  wrong, 
Something  beyond  all  wars  and  bigger  and  strange, 
Something  you  couldn't  explain. 

I  was  back  on  leave- 
Strange,  as  you  felt  on  leave,  as  you  always  felt- 
But  I  went  to  see  the  Chief  at  the  hospital 
And  there  he  was,  in  the  same  old  laboratory, 
A  little  older,  with  some  white  in  his  hair 
But  the  same  eyes  that  went  through  you  and  the  same  tongue. 
They  hadn't  been  able  to  touch  him— not  the  bombs 
Nor  the  ruin  of  his  life's  work  nor  anything. 
He  blinked  at  me  from  behind  his  spectacles 
And  said,  "Huh.  It's  you.  They  won't  let  me  have  guinea  pigs 
Except  for  the  war  work,  but  I  steal  a  few. 
And  they've  made  me  a  colonel— expect  me  to  salute. 
Damn  fools.  A  damn-fool  business.  I  don't  know  how. 
Have  you  heard  what  Erickson's  done  with  the  ductless  glands? 
The  journals  are  four  months  late.  Sit  down  and  smoke." 
And  I  did  and  it  was  like  home. 

He  was  a  great  man. 

You  might  remember  that— and  I'd  worked  with  him. 
Well,  finally  he  said  to  me,  "How's  your  boy?" 
"Oh-healthy,"  I  said.  "We're  lucky." 

"Yes,"  he  said, 
And  a  frown  went  over  his  face.  "He  might  even  grow  up, 


Though  the  intervals  between  wars  are  getting  shorter. 
I  wonder  if  it  wouldn't  simplify  things 
To  declare  mankind  in  a  permanent  state  of  siege. 
It  might  knock  some  sense  in  their  heads." 

"You're  cheerful,"  I  said 

"Oh,  I'm  always  cheerful,"  he  said.  "Seen  these,  by  the  way?" 
He  tapped  some  charts  on  a  table. 

"Seen  what?"  I  said. 

"Oh,"  he  said,  with  that  devilish,  sidelong  grin  of  his, 
"Just  the  normal  city  statistics— death  and  birth. 
You're  a  soldier  now.  You  wouldn't  be  interested. 
But  the  birth  rate's  dropping—" 

"Well,  really,  sir,"  I  said, 
"We  know  that  it's  always  dropped,  in  every  war." 

"Not  like  this,"  he  said.  "I  can  show  you  the  curve. 

It  looks  like  the  side  of  a  mountain,  going  down. 

And  faster,  the  last  three  months— yes,  a  good  deal  faster. 

I  showed  it  to  Lobenheim  and  he  was  puzzled. 

It  makes  a  neat  problem— yes?"  He  looked  at  me. 

"They'd  better  make  peace,"  he  said.  "They'd  better  make  peace.'* 
"Well,  sir,"  I  said,  "if  we  break  through,  in  the  spring—" 

"Break  through?"  he  said.  "What's  that?  They'd  better  make 


The  stars  may  be  tired  of  us.  No,  I'm  not  a  mystic. 
I  leave  that  to  the  big  scientists  in  bad  novels. 
But  I  never  saw  such  a  queer  maternity  curve. 
I  wish  I  could  get  to  Ehrens,  on  their  side. 
He'd  tell  me  the  truth.  But  the  fools  won't  let  me  do  it." 

His  eyes  looked  tired  as  he  stared  at  the  careful  charts. 
"Suppose  there  are  no  more  babies?"  he  said.  "What  then? 
It's  one  way  of  solving  the  problem." 

"But,  sir-"  I  said. 

"But,  sir!"  he  said.  "Will  you  tell  me,  please,  what  is  life? 
Why  it's  given,  why  it's  taken  away? 
Oh,  I  know— we  make  a  jelly  inside  a  test  tube, 
We  keep  a  cock's  heart  living  inside  a  jar. 
We  know  a  great  many  things  and  what  do  we  know? 


We  think  we  know  what  finished  the  dinosaurs, 

But  do  we?  Maybe  they  were  given  a  chance 

And  then  it  was  taken  back.  There  are  other  beasts 

That  only  kill  for  their  food.  No,  I'm  not  a  mystic, 

But  there's  a  certain  pattern  in  nature,  you  know, 

And  we're  upsetting  it  daily.  Eat  and  mate 

And  go  back  to  the  earth  after  that,  and  that's  all  right. 

But  now  we're  blasting  and  sickening  earth  itself. 

She's  been  very  patient  with  us.  I  wonder  how  long." 

Well,  I  thought  the  Chief  had  gone  crazy,  just  at  first, 
And  then  I  remembered  the  look  of  no  man's  land, 
That  bitter  landscape,  pockmarked  like  the  moon, 
Lifeless  as  the  moon's  face  and  horrible, 
iThe  thing  we'd  made  with  the  guns. 

If  it  were  earth, 
It  looked  as  though  it  hated. 

"Well?  "I  said, 

And  my  voice  was  a  little  thin.  He  looked  hard  at  me. 
"Oh— ask  the  women,"  he  grunted.  "Don't  ask  me. 
Ask  them  what  they  think  about  it." 

I  didn't  ask  them, 

Not  even  your  mother—she  was  strange,  those  days— 
But,  two  weeks  later,  I  was  back  in  the  lines 
And  somebody  sent  me  a  paper- 
Encouragement  for  the  troops  and  all  of  that- 
All  about  the  fall  of  Their  birth  rate  on  Their  side. 

I  guess  you  know,  now.  There  was  still  a  day  when  we  fought 
And  the  next  day,  the  women  knew.  I  don't  know  how  they 


But  they  smashed  every  government  in  the  world 
Like  a  heap  of  broken  china,  within  two  days, 
And  we'd  stopped  firing  by  then.  And  we  looked  at  each  other. 

We  didn't  talk  much,  those  first  weeks.  You  couldn't  talk. 

We  started  in  rebuilding  and  that  was  all, 

And  at  first,  nobody  would  even  touch  the  guns, 

Not  even  to  melt  them  up.  They  just  stood  there,  silent, 

Pointing  the  way  they  had  and  nobody  there. 

And  there  was  a  kind  of  madness  in  the  air, 

A  quiet,  bewildered  madness,  strange  and  shy. 


You'd  pass  a  man  who  was  muttering  to  himself 

And  you'd  know  what  he  was  muttering,  and  why. 

I  remember  coming  home  and  your  mother  there. 

She  looked  at  me,  at  first  didn't  speak  at  all, 

And  then  she  said,  "Burn  those  clothes.  Take  them  off  and  burn 


Or  I'll  never  touch  you  or  speak  to  you  again." 
And  then  I  knew  I  was  still  in  my  uniform. 

Well,  I've  told  you,  now.  They  tell  you  now  at  eighteen. 
There's  no  use  telling  before. 

Do  you  understand? 

That's  why  we  have  the  Ritual  or  the  Earth, 
The  Day  of  Sorrow,  the  other  ceremonies. 
Oh  yes,  at  first  people  hated  the  animals 
Because  they  still  bred,  but  we've  gotten  over  that. 
Perhaps  they  can  work  it  better,  when  it's  their  turn, 
If  it's  their  turn— I  don't  know.  I  don't  know  at  all. 
You  can  call  it  a  virus,  of  course,  if  you  like  the  word, 
But  we  haven't  been  able  to  find  it.  Not  yet.  No. 
It  isn't  as  if  it  had  happened  all  at  once. 
There  were  a  few  children  born  in  the  last  six  months 
Before  the  end  of  the  war,  so  there's  still  some  hope. 
But  they're  almost  grown.  That's  the  trouble.  They're  almost 


Well,  we  had  a  long  run.  That's  something.  At  first  they  thought 
There  might  be  a  nation  somewhere— a  savage  tribe. 
But  we  were  all  in  it,  even  the  Eskimos, 
And  we  keep  the  toys  in  the  stores,  and  the  colored  books, 
And  people  marry  and  plan  and  the  rest  of  it, 
But,  you  see,  there  aren't  any  children.  They  aren't  born. 


This  being  a  time  confused  and  with  few  clear  stars, 

Either  private  ones  or  public, 

Out  of  its  darkness  I  make  a  litany 

For  the  lost,  for  the  half-lost,  for  the  desperate, 

For  all  of  those  who  suffer,  not  in  the  flesh. 

I  will  say  their  name,  but  not  yet. 

This  is  for  those 


Who  talk  to  the  bearded  man  in  the  quiet  office, 

Sensibly,  calmly,  explaining  just  how  it  was, 

And  suddenly  burst  into  noisy,  quacking  tears; 

For  those  who  live  through  the  party,  wishing  for  death; 

For  those  who  take  the  sensible  country  walks, 

Wondering  if  people  stare; 

For  those  who  try  to  hook  rugs  in  the  big,  bright  room 

And  do  it  badly  and  are  pleased  with  the  praise; 

For  the  night  and  the  fear  and  the  demons  of  the  night; 

For  the  lying  back  on  the  couch  and  the  wincing  talk. 

This  is  for  those  who  work  and  those  who  may  not, 

For  those  who  suddenly  come  to  a  locked  door, 

And  the  work  falls  out  of  their  hands; 

For  those  who  step  off  the  pavement  into  hell, 

Having  not  observed  the  red  light  and  the  warning  signals 

Because  they  were  busy  or  ignorant  or  proud. 

This  is  for  those  who  are  bound  in  the  paper  chains 

That  are  stronger  than  links  of  iron;  this  is  for  those 

Who  each  day  heave  the  papier-mache  rock 

Up  the  huge  and  burning  hill, 

And  there  is  no  rock  and  no  hill,  but  they  do  not  know  it. 

This  is  for  those  who  wait  till  six  for  the  drink, 

Till  eleven  for  the  tablet; 

And  for  those  who  cannot  wait  but  go  to  the  darkness; 

And  for  those  who  long  for  the  darkness  but  do  not  go, 

Who  walk  to  the  window  and  see  the  body  falling, 

Hear  the  thud  of  air  in  the  ears, 

And  then  turn  back  to  the  room  and  sit  down  again, 

None  having  observed  the  occurrence  but  themselves. 

Christ,  have  mercy  upon  us. 
Freud,  have  mercy  upon  us. 
Life,  have  mercy  upon  us. 

This  is  for  those 

Who  painfully  haul  the  dark  fish  out  of  the  dark, 

The  child's  old  nightmare,  embalmed  in  its  own  pain, 

And,  after  that,  get  well  or  do  not  get  well, 

But  do  not  forget  the  sulphur  in  the  mouth 


Or  the  time  when  the  world  was  different,  not  for  a  while. 

And  for  those  also,  the  veterans 

Of  another  kind  .of  war, 

Who  say  "No  thanks"  to  the  cocktails,  who  say  "No  thanks. 

Well,  yes,  give  me  Coca-Cola"  with  the  trained  smile, 

Those  who  hid  the  bottles  so  cleverly  in  the  trunk, 

Who  bribed  the  attendant,  who  promised  to  be  good, 

Who  woke  in  the  dirty  bed  in  the  unknown  town. 

They  are  cured,  now,  very  much  cured. 

They  are  tanned  and  fine.  Their  eyes  are  their  only  scars. 

This  is  for  those  with  the  light  white  scars  on  the  wrists, 
Who  remember  the  smell  of  gas  and  the  vomiting, 
And  it  meant  little  and  it  is  a  well-known  symptom 
And  they  were  always  careful  to  phone,  before. 
Nevertheless,  they  remember. 

This  is  for  those 

Who  heard  the  music  suddenly  get  too  loud, 
Who  could  not  alter  the  fancy  when  it  came. 

Chloral,  have  mercy  upon  us. 
Amytal,  have  mercy  upon  us. 
Nembutal,  have  mercy  upon  us. 

This  occurs  more  or  less  than  it  did  in  the  past  times. 
There  are  statistics.  There  are  no  real  statistics. 
There  is  also  no  heroism.  There  is  merely 
Fatigue,  pain,  great  confusion,  sometimes  recovery. 

The  name,  as  you  knowy  is  Legion. 

What's  your  name,  friend?  Where  are  you  from  and  how  did 

you  get  here? 

The  name  is  Legion.  It's  Legion  in  the  case  history. 
Friends,  Romans,  countrymen, 
Mr.  and  Mrs.  Legion  is  the  name. 



THERE  are  no  trenches  dug  in  the  park,  not  yet. 
There  are  no  soldiers  falling  out  or  the  sky. 
It's  a  fine,  clear  day,  in  the  park.  It  is  bright  and  hot. 
The  trees  are  in  full,  green,  summer-heavy  leaf. 
An  airplane  drones  overhead  but  no  one's  afraid. 
There's  no  reason  to  be  afraid,  in  a  fine,  big  city 
That  was  not  built  for  a  war.  There  is  time  and  time. 

There  was  time  in  Norway  and  time,  and  the  thing  fell. 

When  they  woke,  they  saw  the  planes  with  the  black  crosses. 

When  they  woke,  they  heard  the  guns  rolling  in  the  street. 

They  could  not  believe,  at  first.  It  was  hard  to  believe. 

They  had  been  friendly  and  thriving  and  inventive. 

They  had  had  good  arts,  decent  living,  peace  for  years. 

Those  were  not  enough,  it  seems. 

There  were  people  there  who  wrote  books  and  painted  pictures, 

Worked,  came  home  tired,  liked  to  be  let  alone. 

They  made  fun  of  the  strut  and  the  stamp  and  the  strained  salute, 

They  made  fun  of  the  would-be  Caesars  who  howl  and  foam. 

That  was  not  enough,  it  seems.  It  was  not  enough. 

When  they  woke,  they  saw  the  planes  with  the  black  crosses. 

There  is  grass  in  the  park.  There  are  children  on  the  long  meadow 

Watched  by  some  hot,  peaceful  nuns.  Where  the  duclcs  are  fed 

There  are  black  children  and  white  and  the  anxious  teachers 

Who  keep  counting  them  like  chickens.  It's  quite  a  job 

To  take  so  many  school-kids  out  to  the  park, 

But  when  they've  eaten  their  picnic,  they'll  go  home. 

(And  they  could  have  better  homes,  in  a  rich  city.) 

But  they  won't  be  sent  to  Kansas  or  Michigan 

At  twenty-four  hours'  notice, 

Dazed,  bewildered^  clutching  their  broken  toys, 

Hundreds  on  hundreds  filling  the  blacked-out  trains. 

Just  to  keep  them  safe,  just  so  they  may  live  not  die. 

Just  so  there's  one  chance  that  they  may  not  die  but  live. 

That  does  not  enter  our  thoughts.  There  is  plenty  of  time. 

In  Holland,  one  hears,  some  children  were  less  lucky. 

It  ^as  hard  to  send  them  anywhere  in  Holland. 

It  is  a  small  country,  you  see.  The  thing  happened  quickly. 


The  bombs  from  the  sky  are  quite  indifferent  to  children. 

The  machine-gunners  do  not  distinguish.  In  Rotterdam 

One  quarter  of  the  city  was  blown  to  bits. 

That  included,  naturally,  ordinary  buildings 

With  the  usual  furnishings,  such  as  cats  and  children. 

It  was  an  old,  peaceful  city,  Rotterdam, 

Clean,  tidy,  full  of  flowers. 

But  that  was  not  .enough,  it  seems. 

It  was  not  enough  to  keep  all  the  children  safe. 

It  was  ended  in  a  week,  and  the  freedom  ended. 

There  is  no  air-raid  siren  yet,  in  the  park. 

All  the  glass  still  stands,  in  the  windows  around  the  park. 

The  man  on  the  bench  is  reading  a  Yiddish  paper. 

He  will  not  be  shot  because  of  that,  oddly  enough. 

He  will  not  even  be  beaten  or  imprisoned. 

Not  yet,  not  yet. 

You  can  be  a  Finn  or  a  Dane  and  an  American. 

You  can  be  German  or  French  and  an  American, 

Jew,  Bohunk,  Nigger,  Mick— all  the  dirty  names 

We  call  each  other— and  yet  American. 

We've  stuck  to  that  quite  a  while. 

Go  into  Joe's  Diner  and  try  to  tell  the  truckers 

You  belong  to  a  Master  Race  and  you'll  get  a  laugh. 

What's  that,  brother?  Double-talk? 

Vm  a  stranger  here  myself  but  it's  a  free  country. 

It's  a  free  country  . . . 

Oh  yes,  I  know  the  faults  and  the  other  side, 

The  lyncher's  rope,  the  bought  justice,  the  wasted  land, 

The  scale  on  the  leaf,  the  borers  in  the  corn, 

The  finks  with  their  clubs,  the  grey  sky  of  relief, 

All  the  long  shame  of  our  hearts  and  the  long  disunion. 

I  am  merely  remarking— as  a  country,  we  try. 

As  a  country,  I  think  we  try. 

They  tried  in  Spain  but  the  tanks  and  the  planes  won  out. 

They  fought  very  well  and  long. 

They  fought  to  be  free  but  it  seems  that  was  not  enough. 

They  did  not  have  the  equipment.  So  they  lost. 

They  tried  in  Finland.  The  resistance  was  shrewd, 

Skilful,  intelligent,  waged  by  a  free  folk. 


They  tried  in  Greece,  and  they  threw  them  back  for  a  while 

By  the  soul  and  spirit  and  passion  of  common  men. 

Call  the  roll  of  fourteen  nations.  Call  the  roll 

Of  the  blacked-out  lands,  the  lands  that  used  to  be  free. 

But  do  not  call  it  loud.  There  is  plenty  of  time. 

There  is  plenty  of  time,  while  the  bombs  on  London  fall 

And  turn  the  world  to  wind  and  water  and  fire. 

There  is  time  to  sleep  while  the  fire-bombs  fall  on  London, 

They  are  stubborn  people  in  London. 

We  are  slow  to  wake,  good-natured  as  a  country. 

(It  is  our  fault  and  our  virtue.)  We  like  to  raise 

A  man  to  the  highest  power  and  then  throw  bricks  at  him. 

We  don't  like  war  and  we  like  to  speak  our  minds. 

We're  used  to  speaking  our  minds. 

There  are  certain  words, 

Our  own  and  others',  we're  used  to— words  we've  used, 
Heard,  had  to  recite,  forgotten, 

Rubbed  shiny  in  the  pocket,  left  home  for  keepsakes, 
Inherited,  stuck  away  in  the  back-drawer, 
In  the  locked  trunk,  at  the  back  of  the  quiet  mind. 

Liberty,  equality,  fraternity. 

To  none  will  we  sell,  refuse  or  deny,  right  or  justice. 

We  hold  these  truths  to  be  self-evident. 

I  am  merely  saying—what  if  these  words  pass? 

What  if  they  pass  and  are  gone  and  are  no  more, 

Eviscerated,  blotted  out  of  the  world? 

We're  used  to  them,  so  used  that  we  half-forget, 

The  way  you  forget  the  looks  of  your  own  house 

And  yet  you  can  walk  around  it,  in  the  darkness. 

You  can't  put  a  price  on  sunlight  or  the  air,. 

You  can't  put  a  price  on  these,  so  they  must  be  easy. 

They  were  bought  with  belief  and  passion,  at  great  cost. 

They  were  bought  with  the  bitter  and  anonymous  blood 

Of  farmers,  teachers,  shoemakers  and  fools 

Who  broke  the  old  rule  and  the  pride  of  kings. 

And  some  never  saw  the  end  and  many  were  weary, 

Some  doubtful,  many  confused. 

They  were  bought  by  the  ragged  boys  at  Valmy  mill, 


The  yokels  at  Lexington  with  the  long  light  guns 

And  the  dry,  New  England  faces, 

The  iron  barons,  writing  a  charter  out 

For  their  own  iron  advantage,  not  the  people, 

And  yet  the  people  got  it  into  their  hands 

And  marked  it  with  their  own  sweat. 

It  took  long  to  buy  these  words. 

It  took  a  long  time  to  buy  them  and  much  pain. 

Thenceforward  and  forever  free. 
Thenceforward  and  forever  free. 
No  man  may  be  bound  or  fined  or  slain  till  he  has  been  judged 

by  his  peers. 
To  form  a  more  perfect  Union. 

The  others  have  their  words  too,  and  strong  words, 
Strong  as  the  tanks,  explosive  as  the  bombs. 

The  State  is  all,  worship  the  State! 
The  Leader  is  all,  worship  the  Leader! 
Strength  is  all,  worship  strength! 
Worship,  bow  down  or  die! 

I  shall  go  back  through  the  park  to  my  safe  house, 

This  is  not  London  or  Paris." 

This  is  the  high,  bright  city,  the  lucky  place, 

The  place  that  always  had  time. 

The  boys  in  their  shirtsleeves  here,  the  big,  flowering  girls, 

The  bicycle-riders,  the  kids  with  the  model  planes, 

The  lovers  who  lie  on  the  grass,  uncaring  of  eyes, 

As  if  they  lay  on  an  island  out  of  time, 

The  tough  kids,  squirting  the  water  at  the  fountain, 

Whistled  at  by  the  cop. 

The  dopes  who  write  "Jimmy's  a  dope"  on  the  tunnel  walls. 

These  are  all  quite  safe  and  nothing  will  happen  to  them. 

Nothing  will  happen,  of  course. 

Go  tell  Frank  the  Yanks  aren't  coming,  in  Union  Square. 

Go  tell  the  new  brokers'  story  about  the  President. 

Whatever  it  is.  That's  going  to  help  a  lot. 

There's  time  to  drink  your  highball— plenty  of  time. 

Go  tell  fire  it  only  burns  in  another  country, 


Go  tell  the  bombers  this  is  the  wrong  address, 

The  hurricane  to  pass  on  the  other  side. 

Go  tell  the  earthquake  it  must  not  shake  the  ground. 

The  bell  has  rung  in  the  night  and  the  air  quakes  with  it. 

I  shall  not  sleep  tonight  when  I  hear  the  plane. 




Listen  to  the  People: 

Independence  Day,  1941 


This  is  Independence  Day, 

Fourth  of  July,  the  day  we  mean  to  keep, 

Whatever  happens  and  whatever  falls 

Out  of  a  sky  grown  strange; 

This  is  firecracker  day  for  sunburnt  kids, 

The  day  of  the  parade, 

Slambanging  down  the  street. 

Listen  to  the  parade! 

There's  J.  K.  Burney's  float, 

Red-white-and-blue  crepe-paper  on  the  wheels, 

The  Fire  Department  and  the  local  Grange, 

There  are  the  pretty  girls  with  their  hair  curled 

Who  represent  the  Thirteen  Colonies, 

The  Spirit  of  East  Greenwich,  Betsy  Ross, 

Democracy,  or  just  some  pretty  girls. 

There  are  the  veterans  and  the  Legion  Post 

(Their  feet  are  going  to  hurt  when  they  get  home), 

The  band,  the  flag,  the  band,  the  usual  crowd, 

Good-humored,  watching,  hot, 

Silent  a  second  as  the  flag  goes  by, 

Kidding  the  local  cop  and  eating  popsicles, 

Jack  Brown  and  Rosie  Shapiro  and  Dan  Shay, 

Paul  Bunchick  and  the  Greek  who  runs  the  Greek's, 

The  black-eyed  children  out  of  Sicily, 

The  girls  who  giggle  and  the  boys  who  push, 

All  of  them  there  and  all  of  them  a  nation. 

And,  afterwards, 

There'll  be  ice-cream  and  fireworks  and  a  speech 

By  Somebody  the  Honorable  Who, 

The  lovers  will  pair  off  in  the  kind  dark 

47 * 

And  Tessie  Jones,  our  honor-graduate, 

Will  read  the  Declaration. 

That's  how  it  is.  It's  always  been  that  way. 

That's  our  Fourth  of  July,  through  war  and  peace, 

That's  our  Fourth  of  July. 

And  a  lean  farmer  on  a  stony  farm 

Came  home  from  mowing,  buttoned  up  his  shirt 

And  walked  ten  miles  to  town, 

Musket  in  hand. 

He  didn't  know  the  sky  was  falling  down 

And,  it  may  be,  he  didn't  know  so  much. 

But  people  oughtn't  to  be  pushed  around 

By  kings  or  any  such. 

A  workman  in  the  city  dropped  his  tools. 

An  ordinary,  small-town  kind  of  man 

Found  himself  standing  in  the  April  sun, 

One  of  a  ragged  line 

Against  the  skilled  professionals  of  war, 

The  matchless  infantry  who  could  not  fail, 

Not  for  the  profit,  not  to  conquer  worlds, 

Not  for  the  pomp  or  the  heroic  tale 

But  first,  and  principally,  since  he  was  sore. 

They  could  do  things  in  quite  a  lot  of  places. 

They  shouldn't  do  them  here,  in  Lexington. 

He  looked  around  and  saw  his  neighbors'  faces. . . . 


Disperse,  ye  villains!  Dawm  you,  'why  don't  you  disperse? 


Stand  your  ground,  men.  Don't  fire  unless  fired  upon.  But,  if 
they  mean  to  have  a  war,  let  it  begin  here! 


Well,  that  was  that.  And  later,  when  he  died 

Of  fever  or  a  bullet  in  the  guts, 

Bad  generalship,  starvation,  dirty  wounds 

Or  any  one  of  all  the  thousand  things 

That  kill  a  man  in  wars, 

He  didn't  die  handsome  but  he  did  die  free 


And  maybe  that  meant  something.  It  could  be. 

Oh,  it's  not  pretty!  Say  it  all  you  like! 

It  isn't  a  bit  pretty.  Not  one  bit. 

But  that  is  how  the  liberty  was  won. 

That  paid  for  the  firecrackers  and  the  band. 


Well,  what  do  you  mean,  you  dope? 

Don't  you  know  this  is  an  imperialist,  capitalist  country,  don't 

Don't  you  know  it's  all  done  with  mirrors  and  the  bosses  get  the 

gravy,  don't  you? 
Suppose  some  old  guy  with  chin  whiskers  did  get  his  pants  shot 

off  at  a  place  called  Lexington? 
What  docs  it  mean  to  me? 


My  dear  fellow,  I  myself  am  a  son  of  a  son  of  a  son  of  the  Ameri- 
can Revolution, 

But  I  can  only  view  the  present  situation  with  the  gravest  alarm, 

Because  we  are  rapidly  drifting  into  a  dictatorship 

And  it  isn't  my  kind  of  dictatorship,  what's  more. 

The  Constitution  is  dead  and  labor  doesn't  know  its  place, 

And  then  there's  all  that  gold  buried  at  Fort  Knox 

And  the  taxes—oh,  oh,  oh! 

Why,  what's  the  use  of  a  defense-contract  if  you  can't  make 
money  out  of  your  country? 

Things  are  bad— things  are  very  bad. 

Already  my  Aunt  Emmeline  has  had  to  shoot  her  third  footman. 

(He  broke'his  leg  passing  cocktails  and  it  was  really  a  kindness.) 

And,  if  you  let  the  working-classes  buy  coal,  they'll  only  fill  it 
with  bathtubs. 

Don't  you  realize  the  gravity  of  the  situation,  don't  you? 

Won't  you  hide  your  head  in  a  bucket  and  telegraph  your  con- 
gressman, opposing  everything  possible,  including  peace  and 


My  worthy  American  listeners, 

I  am  giving  you  one  more  chance. 

Don't  you  know  that  we  are  completely  invincible,  don't  you? 


Won't  you  just  admit  that  we  are  the  wave  of  the  future,  won't 


You  are  a  very  nice,  mongrel,  disgusting  people- 
But,  naturally,  you  need  new  leadership. 

We  can  supply  it.  We've  sent  the  same  brand  to  fourteen  nations. 
It  comes  in  the  shape  of  a  bomb  and  it  beats  as  it  sweeps  as  it 


For  those  of  you  who  like  order,  we  can  supply  order. 
We  give  the  order.  You  take  it. 

For  those  of  you  who  like  efficiency,  we  can  supply  efficiency. 
Look  what  we  did  to  Coventry  and  Rotterdam! 
For  those  of  you  who  like  Benito  Mussolini,  we  can  supply  Benito 

(He's  three  doors  down  to  the  left,  at  the  desk  marked  second 

Vice  President.) 
Now  be  sensible—give  up  this  corrupt  and  stupid  nonsense  of 

And  you  can  have  the  crumbs  from  our  table  and  a  trusty's  job 

in  our  world- jail. 


Forget  everything  but  the  class-struggle.  Forget  democracy. 


Hate  and  distrust  your  own  government.  Whisper,  hate  and  never 

look  forward. 
Look  back  wistfully  to  the  good  old,  grand  old  days— the  days 

when  the  boys  said  "The  public  be  damned! "  and  got  away 

with  it. 
Democracy's  a  nasty  word,  invented  by  the  Reds. 


Just  a  little  collaboration  and  you  too  can  be  part  of  the  New 

You  too  can  have  fine  new  concentration  camps  and  shoes  made 
out  of  wood  pulp.  You  too  can  be  as  peaceful  as  Poland,  as 
happy  and  gay  as  France.  Just  a  little  collaboration.  We  have 
so  many  things  to  give  you. 

We  can  give  you  your  own  Hess,  your  own  Himmler,  your  own 
Goering— all  home  grown  and  wrapped  in  cellophane.  We've 
done  it  elsewhere.  If  you'll  help,  we  can  do  it  here. 

Democracy's  a  fake— 


Democracy's  a  mistake— 


Democracy  is  finished.  We  are  the  future. 



The  sky  is  dark,  now,  over  the  parade, 

The  sky's  an  altered  sky,  a  sky  that  might  be. 

There's  J.  K.  Burney's  float 

With  funny-colored  paper  on  the  wheels 

Or  no— excuse  me— used  to  be  J.  K.'s. 

But  the  store's  under  different  management 

Like  quite  a  lot  of  stores. 

You  see,  J.  K.  got  up  in  church  one  day, 

After  it  all  had  happened  and  walked  outv 

The  day  they  instituted  the  new  order. 

They  had  a  meeting.  Held  it  in  the  church. 

He  just  walked  out.  That's  all. 

That's  all  there  is  to  say  about  J.  K., 

Though  I  remember  just  the  way  he  looked, 

White-faced  and  chin  stuck  out. 

I  think  they  could  have  let  the  church  alone. 

It's  kind  of  dreary,  shutting  up  the  church. 

But  don't  you  say  I  said  so.  Don't  you  say! 

Listen  to  the  parade! 

There  are  the  pretty  girls  with  their  hair  curled, 

Back  from  the  labor  camp. 

They  represent  the  League  of  Strength  Through  Joy. 

At  least,  I  guess  it's  that. 

No,  they  don't  go  to  high-school  any  more. 

They  get  told  where  they  go.  We  all  get  told. 

And,  now  and  then,  it  happens  like  Jack  Brown, 

Nice  fellow,  Jack.  Ran  the  gas-station  here. 


But  he  was  married  to  a  You-Know-Who. 

Fond  of  her,  too. 

I  don't  know  why  we  never  used  to  mind. 

Why,  she  walked  round  like  anybody  else, 

Kept  her  kids  clean  and  joined  the  Ladies'  Social. 

Just  shows  you,  doesn't  it?  But  that's  all  done. 

And  you  won't  see  her  in  die  crowd  today, 

Her  or  the  kids  or  Jack, 

Unless  you  look  six  feet  under  the  ground, 

The  lime- washed  ground,  the  bitter  prison  ground 

That  hides  the  martyrs  and  the  innocent, 

And  you  won't  see  Dan  Shay. 

Dan  was  a  Union  man 

And  now  we  don't  have  Unions  any  more. 

They  wouldn't  even  let  him  take  his  specs, 

The  day  the  troopers  came  around  for  him. 

And  yet  he  needed  specs.  He  had  grey  hair. 

Funny— you  keep  remembering  things  like  that. 

Maybe  he's  still  alive.  It's  hard  to  say. 

(Half  hysterically) 

Listen  to  the  parade! 

The  marching,  marching,  marching  feet, 

All  with  the  same  hard  stamp! 

The  bands,  the  bands,  the  bands,  the  flags,  the  flags, 

The  sharp,  mechanical,  inhuman  cheer 

Dragged  from  the  straining  throats  of  the  stiff  crowd! 

It's  Independence— sorry,  my  mistake! 

It's  National  Day— the  Day  of  the  New  Order! 

We  let  it  happen— we  forgot  the  old, 

Bleak  words  of  common  sense,  "Unite  or  Die," 

We  fiddled  and  we  squabbled  and  we  scrapped, 

We  led  a  filibuster  in  the  Senate, 

We  were  quite  ready  for  a  sacrifice 

Sometime,  next  Tuesday-but  not  yet,  not  now! 

And  the  clock  struck— and  the  bad  dream  w^s  here. 


But  you  can't  do  this  to  me!  I  subscribed  to  the  Party  funds! 



You  can't  do  this  to  me.  We  got  laws.  We  got  courts.  We  got 


You  can't  do  this  to  me.  Why,  I  believe  in  Karl  Marx! 


You  can't  do  this  to  me.  The  Constitution  forbids  it. 


I  was  always  glad  to  cooperate. 

i  It  looked  to  me  like  good  business. 


It  looked  to  me  like  the  class  struggle, 


It  looked  to  me  like  peace  in  our  time. 


Thank  you,  ladies  and  gentlemen.  Democracy  is  finished. 
You  are  finished.  We  are  the  present! 



That  is  one  voice.  You've  heard  it.  Don't  forget  it. 
And  don't  forget  it  can  be  slick  or  harsh, 
Violent  or  crooning,  but  it's  still  the  same 
And  it  means  death. 

Are  there  no  other  voices?  None  at  all? 
No  voice  at  all  out  of  the  long  parade 
That  marched  so  many  years, 
Out  of  the  passion  of  the  Puritans, 


The  creaking  of  the  wagons  going  west, 

The  guns  of  Sharpsburg,  the  unnumbered  dead, 

Out  of  the  baffled  and  bewildered  hosts 

Who  came  here  for  a  freedom  hardly  known, 

Rebel  and  exile,  bondservant  and  outcast. 

Out  of  the  bowels  of  the  immigrant  ship, 

The  strange,  sick  voyage,  the  cheating  and  the  scorn 

And  yet,  at  the  end,  Liberty. 

Liberty  with  a  torch  in  her  right  hand, 

Whoever  cheated  and  whoever  lied, 

Liberty  for  my  children,  Liberty 

Slowly  worked  out,  deceived  a  thousand  times, 

But  never  quite  forgotten,  always  growing, 

Growing  like  wheat  and  corn. 

"I  remember  a  man  named  Abe  Lincoln. 

I  remember  the  words  he  used  to  say." 

Oh,  we  can  call  on  Lincoln  and  Tom  Paine, 

Adams  and  Jefferson. 

Call  on  the  great  words  spoken  that  remain 

Like  the  great  stars  of  evening,  the  fixed  stars, 

But  that  is  not  enough. 

The  dead  are  mighty  an*d  are  part  of  us 

And  yet  the  dead  are  dead.  This  is  our  world, 

Our  time,  our  choice,  our  anguish,  our  decision. 

This  is  our  world.  We  have  to  make  it  now, 

A  hundred  and  thirty  millions  of  us  have  to 

And  make  it  well,  or  suffer  the  bad  dream. 

What  have  we  got  to  say? 


I  don't  know.  Fm  a  woman  with  a  house. 

I  do  my  work.  I  take  care  of  my  man. 

I've  got  a  right  to  say  how  things  should  be. 

I've  got  a  right  to  have  my  kids  grow  up 

The  way  they  ought  to  grow.  Don't  stop  me  there. 

Don't  tread  on  me,  don't  hinder  me,  don't  cross  me. 

I  made  my  kids  myself.  I  haven't  got 

Big  words  to  tell  about  them. 

But,  if  you  ask  about  democracy, 

Democracy's  the  growing  and  the  bearing, 

Mouth  at  the  breast  and  child  still  to  be  born. 

Democracy  is  kids  and  the  green  grass. 



What  have  we  got  to  say, 
People,  you  people? 


I  guess  I  haven't  thought  about  it  much. 

I  been  too  busy.  Way  I  figure  it 

It's  this  way.  We've  got  something.  If  it's  crummy 

The  bunch  of  us  can  change  what  we  don't  like 

In  our  own  way  and  mean  it. 

I  got  a  cousin  back  in  the  old  country. 

He  says  it's  swell  there  but  he  couldn't  change 

A  button  on  his  pants  without  an  order 

From  somebody's  pet  horse.  Maybe  he  likes  it. 

I'm  sticking  here,  That's  all.  Well,  sign  me  off. 


People,  you  people,  living  everywhere, 

Sioux  Falls  and  Saugatuck  and  Texarkana, 

Memphis  and  Goshen,  Harrodsburg  and  Troy, 

People  who  live  at  postmarks  with  queer  names, 

Blue  Eye  and  Rawhide,  Santa  Glaus  and  Troublesome, 

People  by  rivers,  people  of  the  plains, 

People  whose  contour-plows  bring  back  the  grass 

To  a  dust-bitten  and  dishonored  earth, 

And  those  who  farm  the  hillside  acres  still 

And  raise  up  fortitude  between  the  stones, 

Millions  in  cities,  millions  in  the  towns, 

People  who  spit  a  mile  from  their  front  doors 

And  gangling  kids,  ballplaying  in  the  street, 

All  races  and  all  stocks,  all  creeds  and  cries, 

And  yet  one  people,  one,  and  always  striving. . . . 

A  MAN: 

I'm  on  relief. 

I  know  what  they  say  about  us  on  relief, 

Those  who  never  were  there. 

All  the  same,  we  made  the  park. 

We  made  the  road  and  the  check-dam  and  the  culvert. 

Our  names  are  not  on  the  tablets.  Forget  our  names. 

But,  when  you  drive  on  the  road,  remember  us,  also. 


Remember  Johnny  Lombardo  and  his  pick, 
Remember  us,  when  you  build  democracy, 
For  we,  too,  were  part  and  are  part. 


One  nation,  one. 

And  the  voices  of  young  and  old,  of  all  who  have  faith, 
Jostling  and  mingling,  speaking  from  the  ground, 
Speaking  from  the  old  houses  and  the  pride, 
Speaking  from  the  deep  hollows  of  the  heart. 


I  was  born  in  '63. 

There  were  many  then  who  despaired  of  the  Republic, 

Many  fine  and  solid  citizens. 

They  had  good  and  plausible  reasons  and  were  eloquent. 

I  grew  up  in  the  Age  of  Brass,  the  Age  of  Steel. 

I  have  known  and  heard  of  three  wars. 

All  through  my  life,  whenever  the  skies  were  dark, 

There  came  to  me  many  fine  and  solid  citizens, 

Wringing  their  hands,  despairing  of  th£  Republic, 

Because  of  an  income  tax  or  a  depression, 

Because  their  party  had  lost  the  last  election, 

Because  we  couldn't  do  this  and  shouldn't  do  that. 

And  yet,  each  time,  I  saw  the  Republic  grow 

Like  a  great  elm  tree,  through  each  fault  and  failure, 

The  stubborn  rock,  the  parched  soil, 

And  spread  its  branches  over  all  the  people. 

Look  at  the  morning  sun.  There  is  the  Republic. 

Not  yesterday,  but  there,  the  breaking  day. 


But,  my  worthy  American  listeners, 

All  this  is  degenerate  talk. 

The  future  rolls  like  a  wave  and  you  cannot  fight  it. 


Who  says  we  can't? 

Who  says  so? 


What's  his  racket? 


How  does  he  get  that  way? 


You  mean  to  tell  me 

A  little  shrimp  like  that  could  run  the  world, 
A  guy  with  a  trick  moustache  and  a  bum  salute 
Run  us,  run  you  and  me? 


You  mistake  me. 

Others  have  often  made  the  same  mistake 

Often  and  often  and  in  many  countries. 

1  never  play  upon  a  people's  strength. 

I  play  upon  their  weaknesses  and  Fears. 

I  make  their  doubts  my  allies  and  my  spies. 

I  have  a  most  convincing  mask  of  peace 

Painted  by  experts,  for  one  kind  of  sucker, 

And  for  another— I'm  a  business  man, 

Straight  from  the  shoulder,  talking  trade  and  markets 

And  much  misunderstood. 

I  touch  this  man  upon  his  pocketbook, 

That  man  upon  his  hatred  for  his  boss, 

That  man  upon  his  fear. 

I  offer  everything,  for  offering's  cheap. 

I  make  no  claims  until  I  make  the  claims. 

I'm  always  satisfied  until  I'm  not 

Which  happens  rather  rapidly  to  those 

Who  think  I  could  be  satisfied  with  less 

Than  a  dismembered  and  digested  world. 

My  secret  weapon  is  no  secret  weapon. 

It  is  to  turn  all  men  against  all  men 

For  my  own  purposes.  It  is  to  use 

Good  men  to  do  my  work  without  their  knowledge, 

Not  only  the  secret  traitor  and  the  spy. 

It  is  to  raise  a  question  and  a  doubt 

Where  there  was  faith.  It  is  to  subjugate 

Men's  minds  before  their  bodies  feel  the  steel. 

It  is  to  use 

All  envy,  all  despair,  all  prejudice 

For  my  own  work. 

If  you  ve  an  envy  or  a  prejudice 

A  nicely  grown,  well-rounded  piece  of  hate, 

I'll  play  on  it  and  use  it  to  your  ruin. 

My  generals  are  General  Distrust, 

General  Fear,  General  Half-A-Heart, 

General  It's-Too-Late, 

General  Greed  and  Major-General  Hate, 

And  they  go  walking  in  civilian  clothes 

In  your  own  streets  and  whisper  in  your  ears. 

I  won't  be  beaten  just  by  sitting  tight. 

They  tried  that  out  in  France.  I  won't  be  beaten 

By  hiding  in  the  dark  and  making  faces, 

And  certainly  I  never  will  be  beaten 

By  those  who  rather  like  my  kind  of  world, 

Or,  if  not  like  it,  think  that  it  must  come, 

Those  who  have  wings  and  burrow  in  the  ground. 

For  I'm  not  betting  only  on  the  tanks, 

The  guns,  the  planes,  the  bombers, 

But  on  your  own  division  and  disunion. 

On  your  own  minds  and  hearts  to  let  me  in, 

For,  if  that  happens,  all  I  wish  for  happens. 

So  what  have  you  to  say? 

What  have  you  got  to  bet  against  my  bet? 

Where's  your  one  voice? 


Our  voice  is  not  one  voice  but  many  voices. 

Not  one  man's,  not  the  greatest,  but  the  people's. 

The  blue  sky  and  the  forty-eight  States  of  the  people. 

Many  in  easy  times  but  one  in  the  pinch 

And  that's  what  some  folks  forget. 

Our  voice  is  all  the  objectors  and  dissenters 

And  they  sink  and  are  lost  in  the  groundswell  of  the  people, 

Once  the  people  rouse,  once  the  people  wake  and  listen. 

People,  you  people,  growing  everywhere, 

What  have  you  got  to  say? 

There's  a  smart  boy  here  with  a  question  and  he  wants  answers. 

What  have  you  got  to  say? 



We  are  the  people.  Listen  to  us  now. 


Says  you  we're  puny?  We  built  Boulder  Dam, 
We  built  Grand  Coulee  and  the  T.  V.  A. 
We  built  them  out  of  freedom  and  our  sweat. 


Says  you  we're  faint  of  heart  and  little  of  mind? 

We  poured  like  wheat  through  the  gaps  of  the  Appalachians. 

We  made  the  seas  of  wheat,  the  seas  of  corn. 

We  made  five  States  a  sea  of  wheat  and  corn. 


We  built  the  cities  and  the  skyscrapers, 

All  the  proud  steel.  We  built  them  up  so  high 

The  eagles  lost  their  way. 


That's  us.  When  did  you  do  a  job  like  that? 


Wasn't  enough. 


No,  and  you  bet  it  wasn't. 

Not  with  the  apple-sellers  in  the  streets, 

Not  with  the  empty  shops,  the  hungry  men, 


But  we  learned  some  things  in  that  darkness  and  kept  free. 
We  didn't  fold  up  and  yell  for  a  dictator. 
We  built,  even  in  the  darkness.  We  learned  our  trade 
By  the  licks  we  took  and  we're  building«different  now. 


We  lost  our  way  for  a  while  but  we've  found  our  way. 
We  know  it  and  we'll  hold  it  and  we'll  keep  it. 
We'll  tell  it  to  the  world.  We're  saying  it. 



Freedom  to  speak  and  pniy. 


Freedom  from  want  and  fear. 


That's  what  we're  building. 


Now  and  here  and  now. 


Forever  and  forever  and  forever. 


People,  you  people,  risen  and  awake. .  . . 


That's  what  we're  building  and  we'll  build  it  here. 

That's  what  we're  building  and  we'll  build  it  now, 

Build  it  and  make  it  shine  across  the  world, 

A  refuge  and  a  fortress  and  a  hope, 

Breaking  old  chains  and  laughing  in  the  sun. 

This  is  the  people's  cause,  the  people's  might. 

We  have  set  up  a  standard  for  the  free 

And  it  shall  not  go  down. 

That's  why  we  drill  the  plate  and  turn  the  wheel, 

Build  the  big  planes. 

That's  why  a  million  and  a  half  of  us 

Learn  here  and  now  how  free  men  stand  in  arms. 

Don't  tread  on  ps,  don't  hinder  us,  don't  cross  us. 

We  won't  have  tyranny  here. 

VOICE:  i 

We  don't  give  one  long  low  hoot  for  your  master  race. 
We  think  your  slick  new  order's  a  bowl  of  raspberries. 
We'll  pick  the  small  and  the  free  and  the  enduring, 
Wherever  we  find  them  and  wherever  they  are. 
We  won't  have  tyranny  here. 



We'll  stick  by  Rosie  Shapiro  and  Dan  Shay, 

Paul  Bunchick  and  the  Greek  who  runs  the  Greek's, 

And  all  of  'em  like  that,  wherever  they  are. 

We'll  stick  by  the  worn  old  stones  in  Salem  churchyard, 

The  Jamestown  church  and  the  bones  of  the  Alamo. 

We  won't  have  tyranny  here. 


It's  a  long  way  out  of  the  past  and  a  long  way  forward. 

It's  a  tough  way,  too,  and  there's  plenty  of  trouble  in  it. 

It's  a  black  storm  crowding  the  sky  and  a  cold  wind  blowing, 

Blowing  upon  us  all. 

See  it  and  face  it.  That's  the  way  it  is. 

That's  the  way  it'll  be  for  a  time  and  a  time. 

Even  the  easy  may  have  little  ease. 

Even  the  meek  may  suffer  in  their  meekness. 

But  we've  ridden  out  storms  before  and  we'll  ride  out  this  one, 

Ride  it  out  and  get  through. 

It  won't  be  done  by  the  greedy  and  the  go-easies. 

The  stuffed  shirts,  the  "yes  but"  men  and  the  handsome  phonies, 

The  men  who  want  to  live  in  their  father's  pockets, 

The  folks  who  barely  believe  and  the  bitter  few. 

It'll  be  done  by  the  river  of  the  people, 

The  mountain  of  the  people,  the  great  plain 

Grown  to  the  wheat  of  the  people, 

Plowed  by  their  suffering,  harrowed  by  their  hope, 

Tall  with  their  endless  future. 

It'll  be  done  by  the  proud  walker,  Democracy, 

The  walker  in  proud  shoes. 

Get  on  your  feet,  Americans,  and  say  it! 

Forget  your  grievances,  wherever  you  are, 

The  little  yesterday's  hates  and  the  last  year's  discord. 

This  is  your  land,  this  is  your  independence, 

This  is  the  people's  cause,  the  people's  might. 

Say  it  and  speak  it  loud,  United,  free. . . 


United,  free. 



Whatever  happens  and  whatever  falls. 
We  pledge  ourselves  to  liberty  and  faith. 

To  liberty  and  faith. 


We  pledge  ourselves  to  justice,  law  and  hope 

And  a  free  government  by  our  own  men 

For  us,  our  children  and  our  children's  children. 


For  us,  our  children  and  our  children's  children. 


Not  for  an  old  dead  world  but  a  new  world  rising. 


For  the  toil,  the  struggle,  the  hope  and  the  great  goal. 


You've  heard  the  long  parade 
And  all  the  voices  that  cry  out  against  it, 
Some  of  our  own,  and  one  that's  not  our  own 
And  never  will  be  while  we're  still  the  people. 


What  do  the  people  say? 

Well,  you've  just  heard  some  questions  and  some  answers, 

Not  all,  of  course.  No  man  can  say  that's  all. 

A  man's  a  humbug  if  he  says  that's  all. 

But  look  in  your  own  minas  and  memories 

And  find  out  what  you  find  and  what  you'd  keep. 

It's  time  we  did  that  and  it  won't  be  earlier. 

I  don't  know  what  each  one  of  you  will  find, 

What  memory,  what  token,  what  tradition, 

It  may  be  only  half  a  dozen  words 


Carved  on  a  stone,  carved  deeper  in  the  heart, 
It  might  be  all  a  life,  but  look  and  find  it- 
Sun  on  Key  West,  snow  on  New  Hampshire  hills, 
Warm  rain  on  Georgia  and  the  Texas  wind 
Blowing  across  an  empire  and  all  part, 
All  one,  all  indivisible  and  one- 
Find  it  and  keep  it  and  hold  on  to  it, 
For  there's  a  buried  thing  in  all  of  us, 
Deeper  than  all  the  noise  of  the  parade, 
The  thing  the  haters  never  understand 
And  never  will,  the  habit  of  the  free. 

Out  of  the  flesh,  out  of  the  minds  and  hearts 

Of  thousand  upon  thousand  common  men, 

Cranks,  martyrs,  starry-eyed  enthusiasts 

Slow-spoken  neighbors,  hard  to  push  around, 

Women  whose  hands  were  gentle  with  their  kids 

And  men  with  a  cold  passion  for  mere  justice. 

We  made  this  thing,  this  dream. 

This  land  unsatisfied  by  little  ways, 

Open  to  every  man  who  brought  good  will, 

This  peaceless  vision,  groping  for  the  stars, 

Not  as  a  huge  devouring  machine 

Rolling  and  clanking  with  remorseless  force 

Over  submitted  bodies  and  the  dead 

But  as  live  earth  where  anything  could  grow, 

Your  crankiness,  my  notions  and  his  dream, 

Grow  and  be  looked  at,  grow  and  live  or  die. 

But  get  their  chance  of  growing  and  the  sun. 

We  made  it  and  we  make  it  and  it's  ours. 

We  shall  maintain  it.  It  shall  be  sustained.